DETROIT (WWJ) – The future of a new entertainment district and Red Wings arena will be on the agenda Friday morning during a special session of Detroit City Council — but not everyone is happy about it.
“The irony here is that I will make money.”
The words of Gerald Belanger… and yet Belanger says he is against any arena deal that would involve public funding. As the owner of the Park Bar in Grand Circus Park, he would no doubt financially benefit from the project put forth by Illitch-owned Olympia Entertainment. But Belanger says the deal to this point has lacked transparency, and in his words, is the latest example of cronyism in Detroit.
“A couple of those guys are sitting with orange suits on, right now, in their jail cells. Well, who were they doing business with, where are those guys on the other side of the handshakes of those illegal deals? They’re still running around in Detroit. They’re the ones that cooked up this deal,” says Belanger.
Belanger says he and a small group of business owners plan on voicing their concerns before council. He says Mike Ilitch should not receive public funding support.
“He becomes my direct competitor, but I’m being taxed to pay for that development. He’s not being taxed to pay for that development, and the terms go on and on and on,” says Belanger.
Belanger adds, “This gives him a monopoly on a market, in which he has no investment in the asset.”
Also among the group planning to make their voices heard at Friday’s council session is Tom Stephens with the group, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management.
“What a strange situation this is that the city of Detroit is bankrupt and yet the leaders of our state are proposing to spend over, maybe, $200-million of taxpayer money to support a single business that’s owned by a billionaire, who could afford to do this for his own business,” says Stephens.
The proposed arena and entertainment complex would be located on the west side of Woodward, between Downtown and Midtown.