New Red Wings arena, entertainment district unveiled - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

New Red Wings arena, entertainment district unveiled

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DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) - A huge investment in Hockeytown! Construction will soon get underway on a new $650 million Red Wings arena and entertainment district. We're getting our first look at the impressive plans projected to generate close to $2 billion and create thousands of jobs.

Click on the video player to watch Robin Schwartz's report.

The artist renderings might make you say, "Wow!" A brand new, state of the art hockey arena with a glowing LED roof and vibrant, walkable neighborhoods along Woodward Ave. just north of I-75. The vision is about to become a reality as construction begins on a new, 18,000 seat stadium and 45-block entertainment complex not far from the Ilitch family's other venues including the Fox Theater and Comerica Park.

"This is probably the biggest development enterprise the city has undertaken since the Renaissance Center was constructed out on the riverfront 40 years ago," said Free Press sports columnist Drew Sharp. "It is a big deal."

An aerial view of the sit shows there's not much there. But, when construction is complete there will be new lighting, sidewalks, green spaces and places to live, work and play. While critics wonder if this is the best use of tax dollars in the midst of a bankruptcy, Sharp believes it is.

"You have to reinvest in the downtown area because sadly, it's the downtown area of Detroit that's the only thing that's pretty much salvageable in this city," he said.

Sunday, Mike Ilitch was spotted at Comerica Park taking in a Tiger's game and celebrating his 85th birthday. In a statement, he says, "It's always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit. I want people to look at Detroit's new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn't be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life."

The project is expected to create 8,300 construction and construction related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs. While it won't solve all the city's problems, Sharp says it's an important, big step in the right direction.
"It's not gonna help the schools, it's not gonna lower the crime rate in the bad parts of the city, but if Detroit wishes to survive, at least a certain part of Detroit, you have to make the only really vibrant part of the town even more attractive for investors and for people," he said.

Construction is set to begin this fall. The new arena is scheduled to open in summer 2017. Stay with Fox 2 and myfoxdetroit.com for continuing coverage.

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