Stops on M1 rail line prompt speculation over future development

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The Woodward Light Rail project is re-energizing hopes of a new hockey arena being built in Detroit.

New additions to the planned train stops could provide clues. Vacant properties along Woodward Avenue have long been deemed eyesores, but despite the stigma, a new train stop is planned for Temple Street.

City leaders say the stops aren't just about where the city is now, but also in the future.

It's the kind of clue that has sparked speculation that Ilitch Holdings, led by Mike Ilitch, could build a new hockey arena near the area.

"Since a lot of land is being purchased and cleared, and it's right on Woodward, it would make sense," said Charles Pugh, Detroit City Council President.

The project, worth more than $500 million, is funded through city and federal dollars, along with money from the private group, M1. Mike Ilitch is a member of the group. He's also chairman of Ilitch Holdings, which is the parent company to Olympia entertainment, which operates the Joe Louis Arena.

In a statement to Action News, Ilitch Holdings Spokeswoman Karen Cullen said, "We have made no requests with regards to specific stops on the M1 rail line."

But that isn't stopping Pugh from thinking big. He also plans to urge Tom Gores, the new owner of the Pistons, to consider relocating his team as well.

He says, "I'm going to say to Mr. Gores, look don't you want your Pistons fans to get there easily on the Woodward light rail?"

Construction on the project is expected to begin next spring and could be completed as early as 2015.

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