Target: Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan
Goal: Demand Michigan governor drop plans to use public money on new Detroit Red Wings stadium.
The city of Detroit was recently forced to declare bankruptcy, with total debt estimates reaching up to $20 billion. Detroit has the largest poverty rate of any major city in the United States, and basic services including medical care and sanitation are deteriorating. So how does Michigan Governor Rick Snyder respond to this? By electing to subsidize a billionaire’s sports arena.
Snyder recently approved a $650 million new stadium for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, with property tax money accounting for approximately $284 million. Fittingly enough, the man who stands to benefit from this ‘no bread but yes to circuses’ plan is Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch, whose fortune totals over $2 billion.
So why, in a city where only about 60 percent of the street lights work and just one-third of ambulances are operational, is Snyder so eager to build a huge stadium on behalf of a man who can certainly pay the cost himself? Snyder claims that the new Red Wings arena will be an engine of economic growth for Detroit. However, as The Nation sports columnist Dave Zirin has noted “a new Red Wings arena would be the city’s third publicly funded major sports stadium, joining the Tigers’ Comerica Stadium and the Lions’ Ford Field. Each of these was billed as a “remedy” to save the city.”
While one can argue a sports team such as the Detroit Red Wings benefits the culture of a city, building a new stadium should not take priority when people are forced to live on darkened, trash-ridden streets. By signing this petition, you will demand Governor Snyder drop his plans to subsidize the new Red Wings arena.
Dear Governor Snyder,
Recently, you have announced that you plan to spend over $280 million of public money to subsidize a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. Your decision comes at a time when the city of Detroit is crippled by debt and bankruptcy. As you may know, infrastructure is crumbling and sometimes barely functional. As MSN noted on a July 18 report “Detroit police take about 58 minutes, on average, to answer emergency calls…Only a third of the city’s ambulances even work.”
As the people of Detroit suffer without basic services most Americans take for granted, how can spending millions on a sports arena in the city be justified? You state your reason for this planned investment of public money is that the new stadium will be an engine of economic growth. However, the actual experiences of cities including Detroit with Ford Field and Comerica Stadium disprove this argument.
Sports teams, especially ones with the history of the Detroit Red Wings-a member of the NHL’s Original Six-certainly may be considered a cultural benefit to cities. However, when people live on darkened streets with uncollected trash and have little access to emergency services, funding arenas for them cannot be a priority of government. I ask that you drop your plan to fund the new Red Wings stadium, and instead concentrate public money on measures to help the people of Detroit.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michael Barera via Wikimedia Commons