Despite bankruptcy, Detroit's new $400 million dollar hockey rink is a "go"

Failure sometimes has an inertia that is difficult to stop.  Detroit’s reality is anything but pretty:

Detroit city services are already stretched extremely thin. On average, police take about an hour to respond to calls for help, and 40% of street lights are shut off to save money.

Because of a lack of funds, the police force has shrunk in size to the point that it simply can’t respond in any meaningful way to help citizens who are victims of crime.  As you might imagine then, crime is horrific. City services are so minimal as to almost be non-existent.  Yet the refusal to face that reality and deal with it still exists among those who should know better:

Advocates of the arena say it’s the kind of economic development needed to attract both people and private investment dollars into downtown Detroit. It’s an argument that has convinced Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager he appointed to oversee the city’s finances, to stick with the plan. Orr said Detroit’s bankruptcy filing won’t halt the arena plans.

“I know there’s a lot of emotional concern about should we be spending the money,” said Orr. “But frankly that’s part of the economic development. We need jobs. If it is as productive as it’s supposed to be, that’s going to be a boon to the city.”

A boon?  How can it be a boon to a city no one is willing to call home?  How can it be a boon to a city where the chance of being the victim of a crime is almost off the charts in comparison to other cities?  Without addressing those problems, how is a hockey rink going to attract anyone to Detroit?

It is this sort of leadership lunacy which led to Detroit’s current situation.  And the governor and state legislature don’t escape blame either, as it took a vote there in December to okay the project and expenditure.  In one of the few times you’ll see me agree with a Democrat about spending, I agree with this lady:

“If you want people to live in the city, and not just visit to go to games, you have to invest in schools, in having the police to respond to calls,” said Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic leader in the state senate. “There are so many investments that should trump a sports stadium.”

Precisely right.  So why, then, is this still going forward, given the current situation?  It’s absurd (and frankly, I’ve always believed that sports teams make enough money to build their own stadiums without taxpayer subsidy).

The state legislature approved it.  They can now disapprove it.  Yes, there may be a few contracts they are legally obligated to pay that have been let since the approval in December.  But it won’t be near $440 million dollars.  And, if that money is still available after it has been reclaimed, perhaps Kevyn Orr should make another trip to the capitol and convince the governor and legislature of the need to invest that money where it might help salvage Detroit, or at least begin to do those things necessary to improve the quality of life there so people will come back to live in the city.

A hockey rink isn’t one of those “necessary” things.


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