Courtesy of Little Caesars Arena

Tuesday, Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan and other officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official grand opening of the new Little Caesars Arena.

“This is such an important moment for our community, our organization and thousands of people who have put their hearts, hands and souls into this project. Developments like Little Caesars Arena and the District Detroit are rare, perhaps, once in a lifetime. When they are done well and when they are done right, they can create incredible pride and change lives across our community. We believe we have created something truly spectacular for the people of our city, our region, and our state. Little Caesar’s Arena and the District Detroit are transforming our city’s landscape in positive ways. More importantly, they are positively transforming lives,” Ilitch said emphatically to the large crowd. “I’m incredibly excited and driven to build upon my parents’ vision even further by continuing to develop the District Detroit. Opening the doors to Little Caesars Arena today is a massive accomplishment. And yet, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in this 50-plusblock development… Done? We’re just getting started!”

With the opening of LCA, all eyes are on Detroit as the city becomes the first in the country to have all four sports teams, and soon, maybe a fifth, in walking distance within the city’s growing entertainment district, the District Detroit. LCA promises to bring a different kind of entertainment experience. From having the largest scoreboard in the NHL to an outdoor plaza that can accommodate up to 4,000 fans where even sold out games can be viewed on a large LED screen. While the arena alone is an impressive fete, development in the 50-plus-block District Detroit promises to have a positive economic impact on the city and the region with residential units (20% affordable), retail and office space and diverse food and restaurant options, all within blocks of LCA, Ford Field and Comerica Park.

“More than 60 retail concepts are in discussion and planning with a mix of national, local, minority-owned businesses and world-class office tenants who will establish themselves here. All of this will add texture, uniqueness, diversity, participation, excitement and sizzle throughout downtown,” said Ilitch.

The revitalization of Detroit and large projects like LCA have helped to further uncover the employment disparities that exist for Detroiters within the skilled trades. There simply aren’t enough qualified skilled trades professionals in the city to meet the growing construction demands, but through LCA and other District Detroit developments, millions of dollars in revenue has been generated for the city while putting Detroiters to work through construction trades apprenticeship programs and contracts with Michigan companies.

“94% of the contracts awarded have gone to companies in the state of Michigan. That’s nearly $700 million that has been pumped into our local economy, nearly, $475 million for these contracts. 60% of that total has been awarded to companies based in Detroit. All of those contracts to these Detroit companies are helping to power our city’s amazing and ongoing comeback,” said the Ilitch Holdings CEO. “We’ve also been committed to ensuring that jobs created by this contract were filled locally. Residents of our great city have spent nearly 600,000 hours making great wages on our job sites. That’s the most hours we could find worked by Detroiters on a project in over 40 years. We have welcomed 836 apprentices to our construction sites to be trained in new skills they can use to build their careers and provide for their families well after the doors of the Little Caesar’s Arena open today.”

Now, that the arena is complete, Ilitch is maintaining his commitment to the community with the creation of more than 2,000 post-construction jobs at LCA.

“61% are Detroiters. I’m so proud of the intention, effort, and results of our Michigan made, Detroit built business,” said Ilitch.

Known for hits like “Cowboy” and “Born Free,” Detroit rocker Kid Rock is notoriously known for waving the confederate flag at concerts years ago, his support of Donald Trump and recent comments about Colin Kaepernick and the attacks in Charlottesville. This makes his September 12 concert, marking the official opening of LCA extremely controversial, but even amid upcoming protests Ilitch still plans to allow Rock to perform.

“I think that issue has been addressed by Olympia Entertainment in the statement they released. What I will say further is that I learned from my parents, Mike and Mary Ilitch, to treat every customer, every person the way you want to be treated. I have a passion for Detroit, for this community and its people. I try to live up to that passion and that promise each and everyday,” Ilitch said in response to public outcry over the September 12 Kid Rock concert. “While I can’t control what any artist does or says, I can guide our businesses to continue creating life-changing opportunities for people in our community. I will always demand that our companies strive to do right by Detroit, our community and its people.”

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