Chris Ilitch remembers father's collaboration with Detroit during speech

Posted at 2:20 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 18:28:59-05

Ilitch Holdings President and CEO Christopher Ilitch spoke at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Detroit Policy Conference on Thursday.

This is the first time we have heard from Chris since his father, Mike, died nearly three weeks ago.

During the address, Ilitch touched on a variety of subjects, but spoke about his father and the team-oriented business of Ilitch Holdings.

One of the first things he brought up was his father's renovations of The Fox Theatre, and how it couldn't haven been done without the help of the city.

"It took 300 craftsmen and 200,000 hours of work to restore one of the most heavily-ornamented buildings in the world," Ilitch said. "Kind of amazing in just one year and only possible with intense and focused collaboration.

"By bringing together the right partners  and collaborating on this effort, the Fox Theatre and a key stretch of Woodward Ave. came back to life," he added.

According to Ilitch, Little Caesar's moved into the city when other businesses were moving out.

Next, Ilitch discussed how Mike brought his team-oriented approach to building Comerica Park, the new home of the Detroit Tigers.

"He envisioned Comerica Park as a place to bring baseball and entertainment together," he added.

Chris said that when it came to the ballpark and it took a team effort to make all of his ideas come to life.

"From the Fox Theatre to Comerica Park and many other investments my parents have made in Detroit over the past three decades, so much good has happened," Ilitch added. "And so many others have made and continue to make contributions, big and small, all amounting to the incredible progress we're seeing in our city and region today."

He added that he has been able to sit front row and learn from who he said was the best collaborator in this time, his father.
"The bottom line is that we simply can't achieve success in our community without an expansive, inclusive team," he said.
Next, Ilitch touched on the family's newest project, the District Detroit, a multi-faceted sports and entertainment complex located off Woodward Ave. near Comerica Park and Foxtown.
According to Ilitch, he said his father's vision for an "entire sports and entertainment district," came after all of the events in the area, including the Super Bowl and MLB All Star Game.
"I have the amazing honor of carrying out this vision in the District Detroit and the power of partnership and collaboration are driving this project forward," he said.
The District Detroit includes Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings, expected to open in September 2017.
Ilitch said there are nine active construction sites right now in the district, with over 2.5 million square-feet under development.
"The District Detroit will be one of the largest sports and entertainment districts in the country," he said. "It will be a worthy asset for this great community, and quite simply, it would not be possible without our partners."
Watch his entire speech in the video player above.