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Detroit shafted on new hockey arena

Mike Ilitch and the Detroit Red Wings are going to get a brand new hockey arena. After all, the Joe Louis Arena is clearly not a good place to play hockey, and at around 34 years old, well, it's just ancient. No self respecting major league franchise should have to play in a building which is sliding out of the prime 18-34 demographic. It would be an embarrassment.

Then there's the matter of who gets what benefit. The city of Detroit won't get a dime off of revenues, but, hey, look at the jobs which will be created. The new stadium will require about 400 more workers than the old while the construction trades will earn their share during construction. What's not to love?

Well, there's the fact that this is corporate welfare more than anything. That includes the unions who will reap the benefits of the new building. And who will, essentially, foot the bill? Those who get the lower paying new jobs, through the taxes which will be collected against them.

Before going on, it is only fair to acknowledge the commitment and the good the Ilitch family has show the city of Detroit. It is even right to admit that new arenas and the nearby Comerica park and Foxtown developments have been nice additions to the northern downtown area. But is that the real point, especially seeing as the Ilitches footed a lot more of the bill for those endeavors? The rich and powerful, and this includes the high paid construction workers, should not get special help from the government.

What would make this new arena really great is exactly what will not happen: completely private funding. Not one dime of taxpayer money should go towards it. Not one. It's your hockey team, Mr. Ilitch. Your companies are the prime benefactors of the new arena. Therefore you should foot the bill. Indeed, we wouldn't even be talking about an arena without your ownership of the Red Wings. You ought to pay for their playground. We know of no family who received government help to build a sandbox in their own backyard for their own children. Neither should your children in the winged wheel get privileged treatment from the government trough.

Yet they will. And while the wealthiest of locals gets his corporate welfare many Detroiters will not have working streetlights or improved city services. That's just how it is when the rich pull the strings, isn't it? How it should be, Mr. Ilitch?

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