Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Bankrupt Detroit to subsidize hockey arena for billionaire
But could sell great art from museum to help support city
Detroit seems to have swept away legal impediments to a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, but it hasn't swept the cobwebs out of leadership's brains. Despite the bankruptcy, the city is going ahead with subsidizing a hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, owned by billionaire Mike Ilitch, whose wife owns a casino downtown. (Ponder that ownership arrangement.) The $450 million arena will initially cost taxpayers anywhere from $261.5 million to $283 million, depending on who is doing the figuring. But over the long term length of the project, taxpayer costs will run over $400 million. The Michigan governor says the project will help the economy. Apparently, some believe him.
The city has more than $18 billion in liabilities. Some are eyeing great paintings in the Detroit Art Institute -- by Picasso, Tintoretto, Van Gogh, etc -- as a way to raise up to $3 billion. Vultures such as Christie's have already combed through the art museum to see if it can snap up bargains.
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