LANSING, Mich.—A state board on Wednesday unanimously gave the go-ahead for a new Red Wings hockey arena in downtown Detroit to be paid for in part with $284 million in tax dollars even as the broke city works through bankruptcy proceedings.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and others defended against criticism that the $650 million project should be financed entirely with private money because the city currently can't provide basic services and retirees are facing cuts in their pensions. The 18,000-seat arena is designed to be a catalyst for more development and to link downtown and midtown, turning a blighted area into a business, residential and entertainment district.
"This is part of investing in Detroit's future," said Snyder, a Republican who blessed a state-appointed emergency manager's request to take the city into bankruptcy last week. "That's the message we need to get across. … As we stabilize the city government's finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression—although there are great things already going on—to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest."