Ilitch organization blasts critical story by HBO Real Sports as 'inaccurate'

Posted at 6:19 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 18:19:44-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — HBO Real Sports aired a story titled "Motown Blues" Tuesday night that was critical of the Ilitches, examining what the cable network said were "the empty promises that have resulted in empty lots in District Detroit."

Shawn Platt, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Ilitch Holdings fired back at HBO Real Sports, calling the story "inaccurate."

Detroiter Eric Williams watched the story and thought HBO went too easy on the Ilitches.

"It's horrible. There's nothing there but parking lots," referring to the promise of five new neighborhoods near Little Caesars Arena.

In his statement, Platt said, "The reality is that we exceeded our commitment and also know that this catalyzed numerous other development project in and around the arena, including a variety of residential."

But when 7 Action News asked a representative for Olympia Development, an Ilitch company, if residential development by others still met the housing requirement at the center of the criticism, we did not get a response.

Here is Shawn Platt's entire statement:

Our organization has six decades of dedication, commitment and positive impact throughout the broader Detroit community. We are exceptionally proud of our accomplishments, including the creation of thousands of jobs, the restoration of various historic buildings, and the development of a downtown sports and entertainment district which has surged since the opening of Little Caesars Arena. It is unfortunate when a media outlet emphasizes the voices of the critical few and not the voices of many who would present the positive story that is taking place across our City. The result was a self-interested, sensationalized and inaccurate report designed to attract viewers instead of a balanced report on the rebirth of Detroit and our contributions to City’s turn around. Public funds for the arena came from specific tax dollars allocated to fund a catalyst development project that would drive economic growth in the City of Detroit. Our commitment to the City was to develop a $450 million arena, and, within 5 years, deliver $200 million in additional development directly or by others. The reality is that we exceeded our commitment and also know that this catalyzed numerous other development project in and around the arena, including a variety of residential. We invested over $863 million in a state-of-the art, award winning arena and are on track to have over $200 million in private development completed this year, roughly 5 years ahead of schedule. We remain undeterred in our commitment to the City and its bright future. We will continue to invest in successful projects that will drive job creation, economic growth, and enhance, for years to come, the quality of life for Detroiters.

And the City of Detroit is standing by the Ilitches.

“The Ilitches have had a positive impact on our city and we are working closely with them to continue that progress. Little Caesars Arena was a huge project and is an asset for our city," said Arthur Jemison, Chief of Services and Infrastructure for the City of Detroit. "They also have built the new Little Caesar’s HQ and the Mike Ilitch School of Business, and surpassed the requirement of $200M in additional development in just one year."

"On the redevelopment side, The Detroit Life building on Park Avenue is undergoing construction and an architect and construction firm are now under contract for the renovation of the Eddystone," Jemison wrote. "The reality is that major development often takes time. Some projects announced several years ago are still not under construction, due to a variety of unexpected factors. When you take on a 50-block redevelopment, it’s not surprising that some aspects will move more quickly than others.”