Friday, October 12, 2007

New York Times takes a look at private ownership of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge


Bridge’s Private Ownership Raises Concerns


DETROIT — More than a mile of teal-painted steel rises over the Detroit River, just another bridge really, but for the thousands of trucks and millions of dollars in goods that rumble across it each day between the United States and Canada.

In fact, this ordinary four-lane bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in North America, carrying one-third of all road trade — or more than $122 billion in goods a year — between the two countries.

But the span, the Ambassador Bridge, is owned not by either country, not by the cities of Detroit or Windsor, Detroit’s Canadian neighbor, and not by some public bridge authority. It is owned by one man and his privately held company.

In a remarkable arrangement for a crossing so major, Manuel J. Moroun, a reclusive billionaire from Detroit’s suburbs who oversees a trucking empire, owns the bridge, one of only two privately owned bridges along the United States’ entire northern border and by far the most economically significant privately owned bridge in the nation.

Now, with so much commerce depending on a single structure, people have begun to wonder what would happen if a terrorist were to attack it or if the Ambassador Bridge, approaching 80 years old, were to fail.

And so a race is on to build a new $1 billion crossing here.

In a confluence of concerns over national border security, safety of the nation’s stock of bridges and an economic crisis in Michigan, the unusual arrangement here has prompted a simple question: Who should own a bridge?

Opened in 1929, the Ambassador Bridge was privately built by Joseph Bower, a New York financier. Even during its construction, a fight — led mainly by the mayor of Detroit — raged over whether the bridge should be run by a private company or a public agency.

At the time, plenty of bridges were privately owned, though soon the trends moved away from that. Eventually, Mr. Moroun began acquiring stock in the bridge’s owner, the Detroit International Bridge Company, and gained control of the company nearly three decades ago.

Of the 24 vehicular bridges and tunnels between Canada and the United States, only the Ambassador and the bridge connecting International Falls, Minn., and Fort Francis, Ontario, are private.

Supporters of a publicly owned span here say it is the only wise plan, the only one that offers needed public oversight and regulation. They have deep concerns, they say, about allowing a single man to continue his decades-long reign over such a vital connector of nations.

"This man is making billions of dollars on that bridge." said Raymond E. Basham, a Michigan state senator and a Democrat, who said that only a public bridge could ensure the structural inspections and domestic security needed. "When it comes to dollars and cents, there is every incentive for him not to tell us if something is wrong. We have an obligation for the safety of people."

But Mr. Moroun, who is known to most people here by his nickname, Matty, wants to build another bridge himself. Officials from his company say they would open a six-lane span to replace the Ambassador Bridge, which would also be fixed up and could be reopened if the new span ever ran into trouble. Already, the company has bought and boarded up dozens of houses to make way for the Ambassador’s privately owned twin.

In a way, Mr. Moroun’s offer seems tempting, particularly on this side of the border. The region’s automobile-centric manufacturing economy is in free fall, and lawmakers in Lansing, the capital, barely averted a shutdown of government services on Oct. 1, after a standoff over how to make up for the state’s expected $1.75 billion budget shortfall.

"It’s just lunacy for the taxpayers of Michigan and Canada to pick up the bill for this bridge," said Alan Cropsey, a Republican state senator who supports the private bridge. "Why do they feel they need to put a bridge up and compete with the private sector? Why now?"

Each plan — the public and the private — would cost about $1 billion. Each plan still requires many approvals from government agencies on both sides of the border. And each would ultimately be paid for, advocates for the public bridge say, by tolls from bridge users.

Some residents in Detroit and Windsor, particularly those who live near the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, dispute the need for any new crossing. In 2000, more than 12 million cars, trucks and buses crossed the bridge, Michigan transportation officials said. In 2006, vehicles numbered fewer than 10 million, though the number of trucks was nearly the same as before.

"Who needs another?" said Victor Abla, whose window in the Southwest Detroit neighborhood of Hubbard Farms looks out on the Ambassador Bridge. "With trucks backed up on the bridge that’s already here, the pollution is horrible in my neighborhood, and the asthma rates are sky high."

But some studies of traffic on the bridge suggest that it will reach its capacity as early as 2015, said Mark Butler, a spokesman for Transport Canada, a government agency. Others say it will take longer. For now, one question remains: Which bridge will be built?

Advocates for a public bridge complain that Mr. Moroun’s plans will receive special attention from leaders here because of his long history of political campaign contributions. Indeed, campaign contribution records reveal years of donations by him and his family to a wide array of politicians and committees from both parties.

In a request made through Dan Stamper, the president of the Detroit International Bridge Company, Mr. Moroun declined to be interviewed within the time frame of this article. Mr. Moroun might consider an interview "in a month or so," Mr. Stamper said.

For his part, Mr. Stamper defended plans for a new private bridge. He dismissed the matter of Mr. Moroun’s political allegiances and said security concerns were needless: the bridge company had hired private security guards to watch the bridge in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Mr. Stamper also said that the Ambassador Bridge received structural inspections every year from private firms and that the results of those inspections were made available to Michigan and Canadian transportation authorities, though not to the public. Michigan transportation officials said they were for the first time allowed to see a full inspection report in 2005 as part of a road expansion agreement.

Mr. Stamper disputed that, saying the bridge company had earlier shared inspection reports with the state, as well as with Canadian officials.

"To the people who say that they’re uncomfortable with this being private, I say, 'We are a success story,"' Mr. Stamper said.

Leaders in the auto industry here, which depends on the bridge for carrying parts between assembly plants on both sides, have supported studying a government bridge.

Frederick W. Hoffman, the director of state relations for Chrysler, said, “Our particular concern is that there be multiple owners, and thus more competition in the costs.”

The current bridge charges $3.75 for cars; trucks (about 12,000 of which cross here each day during the busiest part of the week) pay by weight, averaging, Mr. Stamper said, $12.

In the end, no one is ruling out the possibility that both bridges may be built.

Residents overwhelmingly oppose Mike Malik's Harsens Island housing development proposal


Harsens Island residents upset about proposed condominiums


CLAY TWP. - Nearly 30 township residents spoke out at Wednesday's public hearing on a plan to build condominiums on Harsens Island.

And none of them were happy.

Their concerns about the proposed $170 million, 380-acre development range from a possible negative impact on the island's ecosystem to traffic congestion to space on the ferry that takes island residents to the mainland.

Island resident Charles Miller said he's worried about what will happen if there's no buyer interest in the 348 condos that would be on the former Boys Club property.

"Michigan is in a depression, a recession," he said during the meeting. "What about the forecasts for selling this out in 12 years?"

Other concerns include the necessary rerouting of a portion of North Channel Drive and that Grande Pointe Development LLC would have to receive special land use consideration for the proposed "cluster housing."

More than 200 people attended the hearing before the township planning commission. People who couldn't fit into the cramped township meeting room stood in the foyer, hallway and doorways, watching the 2½ hour hearing on a TV screen.

Norm Rhodes, a member of the advocacy group Citizens for Responsible Development of Harsens Island, said the township should not treat the developer differently than residents.

Grande Pointe Development LLC is managed by casino developer Michael Malik.

"We're not trying to keep Mr. Malik and the developer from developing that property," Rhodes said.

"There is no hardship that the developer has to request the outrageous site plan, and the clustered housing that is there. To create this dream of theirs on the backs of the citizens of Clay Township is not the way to go about it."

Dorothy Deboyer, chairwoman of the planning commission, said the commission will take into consideration public opinion, but that it can't be the sole factor in the township's decision to approve or reject the project.

"We can't make our decision based on emotions, we have to take into account the laws," she said.

The planning commission will discuss the proposal at its Nov. 14 meeting.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Moody's maintains negative rating outlook for MotorCity Casino

Moody's maintains CCM Merger's negative rating outlook
August 30, 2007

CCM Merger, Inc. Construction began in November 2005. On June 7, 2007 the company completed and opened its casino expansion area.

Rating Rationale
The ratings continue to acknowledge the company's, high leverage, single asset profile and significant ongoing promotional activity in the Detroit gaming market. Positive rating consideration is given to the favorable demographics, population density and limited competition that characterize the Detroit gaming market. The other competing casino, Greektown Casino, is not expected to complete it expansion project until late in 2008.

Unions authorize strike of Detroit Casinos


Casino unions authorize strike

Labor unions representing more than 6,000 workers at Detroit’s three casinos could go on strike if agreements on new contracts are not in place by Tuesday, the date on which current pacts expire.

Talks continue between the casinos and the Detroit Casino Council that voted Wednesday to authorize a walkout if bargaining fails.

The strike threat comes as MGM Grand Detroit Casino has just launched its permanent hotel and casino complex Oct. 2. MotorCity Casino, owned by Detroit Entertainment L.L.C., is scheduled for the grand opening of its permanent complex on Nov. 1. Greektown Casino L.L.C., in the midst of hotel and parking garage construction, expects to open its permanent units next year.

The council, a coalition of five unions, is composed of the United Auto Workers, representing dealers, slot technicians, cage cashiers and money handlers; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing delivery, warehouse, clerks and landscapers; the Operating Engineers, representing engineering staff; the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, representing food and beverage, slot change and porter staff; and the Carpenters Union, representing the carpenters.

Why was the Earp Cohn law firm investigating "Dan Feliz?"

Someone at the Earp Cohn law firm has been reviewing posts at TVT regarding "Dan Feliz."

Among the Earp Cohn firm's key practice areas: White Collar Criminal Defense and Government Enforcement.

The law firm's Web site indicates:

Our white collar defense practitioners have a proven record of success for individual and corporate clients in complex government investigations. Our lawyers include former federal and state prosecutors with many decades of experience on both sides of the isle [sic]. They know how prosecutors and investigating criminal agents plan and conduct their investigations. They have the savvy and the willingness to fight for their clients that these high stakes situations require...

Public Corruption, Campaign Finance, and Election Law Fraud

We have successfully represented public officials who have been the targets of investigations and prosecutions and private individuals who have been targeted by prosecutorial and administrative bodies for campaign finance and election law violations...

You may want to review these additional posts:

Tribes file lawsuit to block statewide referenda


California tribes dispute petitions

SACRAMENTO, California -- As reported by the Sacramento Bee: "Two Riverside County tribes claim opponents of their recent gambling deals missed the deadline to file signatures for February ballot measures that would give voters final say on whether they can expand their casinos.

"In lawsuits filed Wednesday, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians near Temecula contend Secretary of State Debra Bowen wrongly let the agreements' opponents have 90 days to gather voter signatures.

"...In their suits, the tribes argue that the 90-day window covers both circulating petitions as well as the weeks-long process of certifying signatures. Opponents of the deals turned in their last petitions on the Monday deadline -- too late to be certified, the plaintiffs say.

"...Gov. Schwarzenegger signed legislation ratifying the compacts with the Morongo and Pechanga tribes, as well as two other tribes, on July 10, when the 90-day clock started running.

"The deals would give the tribes permission to install up to 17,000 additional slot machines. In return, the tribes would pay the state as much as several-hundred million dollars annually.

"...The campaign said it turned in about 2.8 million signatures, about 300,000 more than the minimum number of valid voter signatures needed to qualify each referendum measure..."


Curiously local newspapers did not cover hearing on Mike Malik's proposal for a Harsens Island housing development and man-made lagoon

The Clay Township Planning Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing last night on Michael Malik's latest proposal for a 380-acre housing development to surround a man-made lagoon on Harsens Island; however, curiously we did not find a reminder of the public meeting in the Times Herald this week nor did we find a report on the meeting's proceedings in today's paper. (The TH did publish a notice on the meeting 19 days ago).

Grande Pointe Development LLC (Mike Malik's company) has paid Clay Township $10,000 in planning and consultant fees to review the development proposal according to township Clerk Michael Pellerito.

Grande Pointe Development is managed by Malik, a one-time Clay Township resident and casino syndicator. He is also a former real estate agent and Algonac City Councilman. His company applied in March for a permit to build "cluster housing" on the former Boys & Girls Club property. In cluster housing, several residential units are grouped together and large open spaces are left between the groups of units. His project is far more than "cluster housing."

While the Times Herald has reported as part of various stories that the housing development project was simply a "condo development;" in fact, 2/3rds of the property in the proposed development appears to be dedicated to a man-made lagoon surrounded by 75 single family home lots and 96 townhomes or "detached condos" built in clusters of six; the remaining units would be located in traditional multi-story buildings on the back 1/3rd of the property on the opposite side of a new bypass road Malik proposes. The lagoon feature would include a canal with unobstructed access to the North Channel of the St Clair River; and a clubhouse is positioned at the entrance to the lagoon on the point of a man-made island which is in the center of the project.

Malik's Grosse Pointe Shores neighbor Matty Moruon, owner of Detroit's Ambassador International Toll Bridge, has proposed to build a toll-bridge (Harsens Island Crossing) to connect the Island with Algonac across the St. Clair River.

Lucky 7 Development LLC and Grande Pointe Development LLC are two Malik controlled entities proposing the housing development project. Attorney Tim Stoepker is apparently involved with and representing Michael J. Malik, Sr.'s interests in the venture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Before Atanas Ilitch returned to his post at Ilitch Holdings, Inc...

from a 9.20.04 story in Crain's Detroit Business:
...Atanas Ilitch resigned as president of Olympia Entertainment nearly five years ago after taking on a challenge that nobody chooses - cancer.

"Healing is like war, getting better takes a good mental framework,'' Ilitch said last week. "You have to have a game plan.''

Ilitch, 41, won that war. Since then he has spent three years establishing a recording studio and a record label in Harper Woods called Soup Can Music Co.

Now, that studio is gaining attention as major stars such as Anita Baker, R. Kelly and Aretha Franklin record there. Plus, just last week Baker named Ilitch manager of her sponsorship and endorsement deals.

Ilitch, 41, is the fifth of seven children of Michael and Marian Ilitch, founders of Little Caesars Pizza, and Detroit-based Ilitch Holdings Inc., a holding company for 13 enterprises including the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment.

When Atanas Ilitch was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in 1999, he was overseeing all the family's entertainment venues, including Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Arena, the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park. He also was vice president of the Red Wings.

Ilitch's far-reaching roles caused some to peg him as a future CEO candidate of Ilitch Holdings, but his battle with cancer derailed any such plans.

Ilitch resigned from Olympia Entertainment and the Red Wings in December 1999 to spend time with his family, recover his health and to figure out what he...

Long Island bloggers question link between Detroit Tigers and MotorCity Casino

as posted at, a committee monitoring the progress of a proposed Shinnecock Indian casino resort on Long Island in The Hamptons:

A Gambling Double Standard?

"Pete Rose cannot enter the Baseball Hall of Fame since he bet on baseball games. In retirement, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays couldn't associate with their ex-teams while working for casinos. Yet, baseball permits Michael Ilitch to own the Detroit Tigers and his wife, Marian, to own a 25 percent stake in the MotorCity Casino. What's wrong with this picture? The incongruity surfaces again in light of revelations last week that Marian Ilitch tried to buy a controlling interest in MotorCity, according to a new lawsuit filed against Ilitch by minority partners in the casino. Major League Baseball apparently couldn't care less. The fantasy is that Mike Ilitch bought the Tigers alone in 1992, even though he and Marian have been partners in their other business dealings, from their pizza business four decades ago to their joint ownership of the Detroit Red Wings. Apparently, nobody but Commissioner Bud Selig accepts an Ilitch rewriting of history that insists Marian never had a thing to do with the Tigers. But it's hard to sound credible when she was listed as an owner with Mike in Tigers media guides between 1993 and 1996." (Crain's Detroit Business, 2.21.05)

Mike Malik's partners also had a history of tax dodging; court ordered real estate negligence claims; and 40+ foreclosures

Michael J. Malik, Herb Strather and a handful of other partners (people involved in a Detroit gambling syndication) were among those who failed to win licenses from the Michigan Gaming Control Board in 1999 following thorough and confidential background checks.

The following was reported about two of Michael Malik's partners on 4.27.99 in the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Detroit News reported Sunday on its review of public records on the local investors.

It said companies owned by local investor group leaders Herb Strather and Nellie Varner of Detroit have paid taxes late, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cited a real estate company they own for several violations.

A bad real estate deal in 1986 led to the foreclosure of nearly 40 properties. This month, HUD issued five violations against a Detroit apartment building they own; courts have awarded their tenants about $750,000 in negligence claims.

Original Michael Malik backed revenue sharing deal short-changes local government

Before the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians was allowed to open its Manistee casino in 1999, the tribe's backers negotiated agreements with the State of Michigan that requires the tribe to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local Manistee area governmental agencies via a local three-member Revenue Sharing Board (PILT fund).

Michael J. Malik and a partner managed/funded the tribe's entitlement and pre-development activities and no doubt helped to structure the agreements.

As a result, the tribe must share 2% of all slot machine profits with the local governments in lieu of property and other taxes. This year that amount is reported to be $2,039,000; however, if the tribe were to pay propety and other taxes like other local land/business owners, payments would exceed $2,160,000 -- a short fall (discount) of at least $121,000.

Further, this year local governments have made requests of the PILT fund which exceed $2,820,000; that's $781,000 less than the PILT fund has to award.

The original deal backed by Malik and his partners is a good one for the tribe but short-changes local government.

Little River Band's Manistee casino falls short of funds to make payments in lieu of taxes


Slot profits don't cover local funding needs

MANISTEE, Michigan -- As reported by the Ludington Daily News: "The Manistee Local Revenue Sharing Board has about $2,039,000 in casino slot machine profits to share with local governments and agencies.

"That amount, however, isn't even enough to cover the $2.16 million payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on the casino, let alone hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant requests made by the local governments.

"The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians owns the casino and does not pay taxes on that property. The PILT payments are a way of giving the affected governments the money they would have received if the tribe did pay the taxes.

"...In all, local governments are asking for $2.82 million, including the PILT payments. Nearly $135,000 of that money is for required public safety grants..."

"...Kaminski said it’s up to the board to decide how to divide the rest of the money, possibly even reducing PILT payments. He said the board asked him to write letters to the governments that receive PILT payments and tell them there is a good chance those payments will be cut by 11.82 percent."

UAW strikes Chrysler; more economic woes for Michigan


Chrysler workers start walking off jobs

From the Port Huron Times Herald Staff Reports and Associated Press

Thousands of Chrysler LLC autoworkers have started to walk off the job after the automaker and the United Auto Workers union failed to reach a tentative contract agreement before a union-imposed deadline.

Workers at the Chrysler parts plant on Marysville’s East Huron Boulevard are believed to be among those starting to protest.

The walkout would be the first UAW strike against Chrysler since 1997, when one plant was shut down for a month, and the first strike against Chrysler during contract talks since 1985. There was no immediate official word from the union or Chrysler on whether it was a nationwide strike.

The UAW, which must reach new four-year agreements with all three Detroit automakers, struck General Motors Corp. for two days before reaching a tentative agreement with the automaker on Set. 26. The union hasn't yet reached a deal with Ford Motor Co.

Brief synopsis of Mike Malik's 14-year scheme to site an off-reservation casino in Port Huron

as published 10.04.07 in the Port Huron Times Herald:

By MIKE CONNELL Times Herald

...Sears joined the exodus to the suburbs, and in 1993, developer Mike Malik proposed turning the vacant Sears building on Michigan Avenue into a $60 million casino.

Malik, a native of Clay Township, envisioned a casino owned by Bay Mills, a Chippewa band from the Sault Ste. Marie area, and managed by Harrah's Casino Hotels of Nevada. The proposal failed on July 13, 1993, when city voters rejected it, 5,120 to 4,751.

A year later, voters in Port Huron Township rejected a similar proposal for a casino off the Water Street interchange of the expressway.

Malik reappeared in 2002, a year after voters endorsed a casino proposal from Don Reynolds, one of the Edison Inn's owners. In August 2002, Gov. John Engler agreed to let Bay Mills create a reservation on the Edison Inn's 15-acre site if the tribe would drop its long-standing claim to a 110-acre parcel at Charlotte Beach on the St. Mary's River.

Numerous efforts to win congressional and presidential approval of the Engler-Bay Mills' deal have failed. A new bill was introduced in May by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee. As of last week, it remained in the House Natural Resources Committee...

Opponents of CA Indian gaming compacts begin turning in referendum signatures


California voters may be asked to decide Indian casino expansion

By Aaron C. Davis Associated Press

Opponents of a nearly 30 percent expansion of tribal gambling began turning in petition signatures Friday for what could prove to be latest ballot fight over Indian casinos in California.

A group opposing deals between four wealthy Southern California tribes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said it has collected enough signatures to let voters decide if the agreements should be revoked. It said the rest of the signatures will be turned in by Monday to the secretary of state's office.

The deals, which were approved by the Legislature in June, would allow the four tribes to install as many as 17,000 additional slot machines.

In exchange, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula and Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego would share a percentage of their earnings with the state.

But a coalition of two other tribes, horsetrack owners and a casino workers' union say the deals are flawed. The coalition consists of the United Auburn Indian Community east of Sacramento, the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Riverside County, Unite HERE International Union and Terry Fancher, managing partner of the parent company of Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park race tracks.

They point to a state analyst's report that found the gambling expansion for the four tribes would not provide as much money to the state as promised. They also argue the deals amount to one of the single largest expansions of gambling in the nation's history and a major shift in the state's policy toward Indian gambling.

Al Lundeen, spokesman for the coalition, said the group began turning in nearly 700,000 signatures to put four referenda against the compacts on the Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot.

"Voters want to have a say, and they want to say no to this drastic change in gaming policy," Lundeen said.

Roger Salazar, a consultant for the four tribes targeted by the coalition, said those opposing the agreements have their own interests in mind.

"Two wealthy tribes who don't want competition and a Las Vegas casino mogul were able to bankroll this signature-gathering effort," Salazar said. "We think these are good agreements, and voters will feel the same when they learn more."

Tribes already operate more than 58,000 slot machines in California, where the Indian gambling industry generated an estimated $7 billion in annual revenue last year.

Salazar said a competing petition drive by the Agua Caliente, Morongo, Pechanga and Sycuan tribes collected 100,000 signatures in support of the compacts.

The tribes also sent workers to follow opposition signature gatherers and convinced nearly 15,000 of those who signed to rescind their signatures.

If the secretary of state certifies the referenda, the tribes likely would spend tens of millions of dollars to sway voters.

Could simple character be the reason the MGCB refuses to license Michael Malik?

as published 4.27.99 in the Las Vegas Review Journal:

...Investor Michael Malik of Grosse Pointe, Mich., was arrested in 1997 and accused of hitting his girlfriend's 12-year-old son, the newspaper [Detroit News] said. The child is now Malik's stepson, but the boy's biological father is seeking custody. The charge was dropped after Malik served one year of probation and met conditions set by the judge...

By 2003, that boy's mother had divorced Michael Malik who it was later revealed had been having an affair with a younger woman: Heather Lufkins, the daughter of the then-chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community L. John Lufkins. Malik has been trying to win approvals to site an off-reservation casino for the Bay Mills tribe in Port Huron and elsewhere since the mid-1990s.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ilitch adds 115 luxury seats to Joe Louis Arena; says it does not signal direction on future of hockey arena


David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Arena officials hope to attract smaller firms and individuals to its new Comerica Bank Legends Club, which can accommodate 115 fans.

Suite deal at the Joe

Wings fans can enjoy box seat luxury without hefty price tag

Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Red Wings fans seeking the luxury of box seats with a price tag better suited for smaller expense accounts have a new place to take in a game at Joe Louis Arena this season.

Dubbed the Comerica Bank Legends Club, the new semi-private seating -- in an open-air box created by consolidating nine corporate suites -- lets small businesses and individuals buy single tickets and enjoy the luxurious amenities of corporate boxes.

Executives from Ilitch Holdings Inc., corporate parent of the Detroit Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment, which manages Joe Louis Arena, unveiled the new facility Monday, saying the suite responds to new demand driven by Metro Detroit's sluggish economy.

They're hoping the suite attracts small businesses and individual professionals -- such as lawyers and corporate consultants -- who want to entertain clients at a Red Wings game but can't afford the big price tag of a full corporate box.

The Legends Club can accommodate 115 Wings watchers. Each seat costs $6,500 for the season, compared with the private corporate boxes offered at Joe Louis for around $125,000 per season. About 60 of the seats already have been sold for this year, said Karen Cullen, vice president of Olympia Entertainment.

"It's a new niche market that's been very successful at other venues," said John Hahn, Red Wings senior director of communications. "Not every business can afford a full box, nor do they necessarily want the responsibility of hosting guests in their box every night."

Hahn said the Legends Club was based on a similar offering at Comerica Park called the Chevrolet Champions Club, which debuted in 2006.

At the Joe Louis Legends Club, ticket holders get a prime, unobstructed view of the action on the ice. The seats are wide, well-cushioned and boast cup holders and lots of leg room.

The price of a seat also comes with a buffet-style meal prepared by Joe Louis chefs -- the same cooks who prepare the catered meals for the more expensive corporate suites -- and nonalcoholic beverages from the aptly-named Captain's Bar, which is adorned with pictures of Red Wings captains from Art Duncan to Nicklas Lidstrom. Alcoholic drinks are extra.

The Legend Club's decor lives up to its name. Visitors are surrounded by "legendary" memorabilia such as jerseys, skates and sticks from favorite players both past and present. The walls and seats are surrounded by dark mahogany-toned woods and shiny black, white and red floor tiles.

Brian Murray, who managed the Legends Club project, said luxury-loving sports fans will see similarities between the Tigers' Champions Club and the Red Wings' Legends Club, but will appreciate the team-specific theme decor.

The Champions Club proved popular during its debut year in 2006 and sold out this past summer.

Hahn said creating the new suite at Joe Louis shouldn't be viewed as an indication that Ilitch Holdings has decided on the future of the arena.

Executives are deciding whether to renew the lease for the city-owned arena when it expires in 2009, or build a new facility. Speculation that the Ilitches might build a new arena near the Fox Theatre, another asset of the family, has swirled as Ilitch Holdings buys up parcels of land and razes vacant buildings near the theater.

"This was going to happen no matter what the future of Joe Louis," Hahn said. "We saw a niche and we filled it. Our clients wanted this and they were going to get it whether we stay here for decades or end up building something new. That decision is still years off."

You can reach Nathan Hurst at (313) 222-2293 or

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ilitch, out of touch, debuts semi-private luxury club at Joe Louis Arena


Joe Louis Arena debuts semi-private luxury club

Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Corporate-type Red Wings fans seeking the luxury of box seats without the hefty price tag have a new place to entertain clients at Joe Louis Arena this season.

Dubbed the Comerica Bank Legends Club, the new semi-private seating -- in an open-air box made by consolidating nine corporate suites -- lets small businesses and individuals buy tickets-by-the-seat and enjoy the luxurious amenities of corporate boxes.

Executives from Ilitch Holdings Inc., corporate parent of the Detroit Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment, which manages Joe Louis Arena, debuted the new facility to media today.

The club's dicor lives up to its name. Visitors to the suite sit in plush seats and are surrounded by "legends" memorabilia like jerseys, skates and sticks from favorite players both past and present.

Seats cost $6,500 for the season, compared with an average of $125,000 for the private boxes, according to Red Wings senior director of communications John Hahn. Approximately 60 of the 105 available Legends Club seats already have been sold for this year.

Tickets include admission to the game, a gourmet buffet and non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar is offered as well.

You can reach Nathan Hurst at (313) 222-2293 or .

The "Gabby:" a Malik family Sea Ray built sport yacht?

The "Gabby," a 44/45' recreational boat (likely a "sport yacht"), manufactured in 2002 by Sea Ray Boats, Inc. is apparently registered to Michele M. Malik at a Wayne County, Michigan address. Ms. Malik is the most recent ex-wife of Michael J. Malik, Sr.

It's unclear what if any interest Michael Malik may have had or has in the vessel. However, Michael Malik has a history of interest in boating, boats and marine related development projects (Harsens Island, Algonac Harbor Club, etc.). A Mike Malik also requested four permits from the Detroit office of the Army Corps of Engineers between 2001 & 2004 to construct a pier, dock and steel bulkhead+.

A million dollar estate property with lake views in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan apparently owned by Ms. Michele Malik is in foreclosure. The property is two doors down from another million dollar lake view estate property still apprently co-owned by Michael and Michele Malik.

In 2001 Michael Malik formed Renegade Charters LLC, a fishing charter operation based out of Manistee, Michigan. That venture's 35' vessel is skippered by Bob Guenthardt, former chairman of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. Guenthardt was chairman of the tribe when Michael Malik partnered with the tribe to establish the Little River Casino in Manistee; and Guenthardt has subsequently partnered with Michael Malik on other gambling ventures.

Mike Malik recieved Army Corps permits to build pier, reconstruct dock

Mike Malik requested four permits between 2001 & 2004 from the Detroit offfice of the U.S. Army Corps to construct a pier, dock, bulkhead-+ for boats or personal watercraft. Further research might reveal the exact locations of, or details regarding, these projects which appear to be personal rather than commercial.

Permit #



Mike Malik
(GP – Issued)

03 NOV 2004

install a T-shaped pier with pilings

Mike Malik
(IP - WDR)

02 NOV 2004

Mike Malik
(GP - Issued)

27 OCT 2003

replace a dock and install a boat hoist

Mike Malik

12 OCT 2001

install a steel bulkhead

Ilitch Family's unclaimed property: Walt Disney Co., Tiffany & Company, Daimler Chrysler, etc.

Members of the Ilitch family have unclaimed property being held by the State of Michigan.

Property Number: 7929835
Transferred from:

City Unknown, MI
Property Number: 6471735
Transferred from:

Property Number: 5883708
Transferred from:

Property Number: 8739104
Transferred from

Property Number: 8739104
Transferred from:

Property Number: 7929835
Transferred from:

Property Number: 8975058
Transferred from:

Property Number: 8975058
Transferred from: WALT DISNEY COMPANY

Property Number: 8124166
Transferred from: STATE OF MI-DMB

Malik's former mistress has unclaimed property being held by the State of Michigan

It appears Michael Malik's former mistress, Heather Lufkins has some unclaimed property being held in trust by the State of Michigan:

Property Number: 8138176
Transferred from: STATE OF MI-DMB

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Hockeytown" as posted at Wikipedia

as posted at WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia:

Hockeytown is a nickname for the city of Detroit, which arose in 1996 thanks to a marketing campaign by the city's NHL franchise, the Detroit Red Wings. The nickname, over time, has gained national and international recognition, and has become an official nickname of the Joe Louis Arena.

To capitalize on the Hockeytown name and its 40 years of restaurant industry expertise, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., parent company of the Red Wings, established Hockeytown Café in 1999 adjacent to its corporate headquarters in the historic Fox Theater building at the heart of the Foxtown neighborhood of downtown Detroit.

Detroit columnist declares: "Millionaires forget what it's like to be regular Joe"

posted 10.07.07 by Drew Sharp on the Detroit Free Press (

DREW SHARP: Millionaires forget what it's like to be regular Joe

...DON'T FORGET THE WINGS: The Wings not only need a new arena, they need the NHL underwriting some of the cost of the project.

The league is so worried about keeping franchises in places they don't belong (like Nashville) that it's forgetting about upgrading the resources in its stronger markets.

The dilapidated Joe Louis Arena is as much responsible for shrinking fan support as post-lockout animosity and a struggling local economy. It's time to tear it down and expand Cobo Center and put a new arena in the Foxtown area where Mike Ilitch already owns much underdeveloped land...

Part II: Strather fronting for big time casino owners all along


Casino deal remains clouded in secrecy

Cape Cod Times

October 07, 2007 6:00 AM
Editor's Note: This is the last of a two-part series. (Part 1)

MASHPEE — South African casino moguls Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman resuscitated the Mohegan tribe's bid for federal recognition, and more than a decade later they continue to reap millions of dollars.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe can only wonder how much of their sovereignty has been signed away to help Kerzner and Wolman continue their dominance of New England's gambling industry. Their ties to the 1,500-member Mashpee tribe pre-date their public relationship, perhaps by years.

The tribe's deal with the men ignited the renewed debate to legalize casinos in Massachusetts. With Gov. Deval Patrick's recent thumbs up on full-scale gaming, they could ultimately change the face of the Bay State.

In February, when the tribe received the final word it would receive federal recognition, the ink was already dry on a deal signed two months prior by tribal leaders and Kerzner, 72, and Wolman, 52.

Then tribal Chairman Glenn Marshall, 57, hid the fact that a casino deal was in place — both from the tribe at large and the public.

In a meeting with the Times editorial board in February, he hinted that the tribe's most public investor, Detroit casino developer Herb Strather, 56, would soon play a smaller role in the tribe's quest to build a casino. But Marshall hedged when he was asked about whether he would entertain signing a deal with other investors.

"Let me tell you, if (Strather) wanted out, he could sell and make money right now," Marshall told the editorial board. "But it would have to be somebody the tribe liked. Somebody who was successful in the arena. Somebody with style and grace."

In a letter to the tribal council in 2004, Strather already referenced other unnamed investors and warned that they might pull out if Marshall was voted out as chairman in the 2005 council elections.

But with Marshall's victory that year, the investors held tight — and silent — as the Bureau of Indian Affairs reviewed the tribe's petition for federal recognition. (Complete Story)

Blogger decalres its "The End of Hockeytown" ... Ilitch not fan friendly

blogger YzerFan19 posted The End of Hockeytown on 10.06.07 at DetroitHockey.Net:

...The ticket prices are far from the worst but they're not good, either. Yeah, you can get tickets for $22 or even $9 if you go to the box office but the $44+ tickets are the vast majority of seats. And the exhibition prices are the same as regular season. Last week I took my dad to the Wings-Leafs exhibition, seats were at center ice but were the last row in the arena, right in front of the press box. Total cost, $100 (Ticketmaster charge included, but not parking).

That kind of thing p*sses the fans off. The Wings came back from the lockout and their big thing was "Look, we're not raising ticket prices!" Aside from the $9 seats that I can't get because I live in Lansing and it's not so easy to just hop down to the JLA box office, they haven't lowered ticket prices (even just to raise them again) since the lockout. It's like they didn't even try to make it up to fans.

And some of the more embedded (or embittered) bloggers will also point out that the Wings' organization is extremely media-unfriendly. The beat writers basically have to spew what the team tells them.

Their website is awful. Their only official fan communication is through a $40/year subscription site that they don't even take the time to update (I paid my $40 twice and then figured out how to hack their forums, so I feel better that they're not getting my money for that sh*t anymore). The players aren't accessible to fans (unless you pay $500 to enter the Hockeytown Hold'em Poker Tournament that just happens to be at the casino owned by the Ilitch family)...(Full Post)

Part I: Strather was fronting for big time casino owners all along


Developers exercised control in tribe's casino push

Cape Cod Times

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series. (Part 2)

MASHPEE — With a multimillion-dollar investment on the line and federal recognition within reach, it was casino developers, not Mashpee Wampanoag leaders, who controlled the tribe's interests, records indicate.

Investors, looking to expand their casino empire, and a few tribal council leaders kept most of the 1,500 tribe members in the dark about their secret deals. And with questions raised internally about tribe finances in 2004, Herb Strather, a Detroit casino developer who helped bankroll the tribe's quest for federal recognition, was desperate to keep Chairman Glenn Marshall in office.

That year, Paula Peters, whose father once held the council chairmanship, announced she would run against Marshall.

The announcement spurred Strather to write a letter to the council on Nov. 24, 2004, about three months before the election. Strather wrote that it would be a mistake to allow Peters to run against Marshall for the chairman's seat.

"It has always been my understanding that Ms. Peters is anti-gaming," Strather wrote. "... What happens to the confidence of our investors who have stuck by us in this long battle?"

Those investors would turn out to be South African casino moguls Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman, who have had their hands in a major portion of the gaming industry in New England: Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and Twin River in Rhode Island.

In the same letter, Strather endorsed Marshall. "If there were a change in leadership, I fear my financial partners would rethink their position, as the majority of them invested after meeting and being comfortable with Glenn and Shawn (Hendricks)."

At the time, Hendricks, now tribal council chairman, was vice chairman of the tribal council.

Strather told the Cape Cod Times in spring 2006 that he had given the tribe $15 million to help it gain federal recognition, making no public mention of other investors at the time. Without the designation, the tribe would be unable to open an Indian casino.

Through two spokesmen, Strather said Wednesday he remembered writing the letter but declined to comment.

But the letter is evidence that Strather, his investors in concert with Marshall, not the tribe at large, were the driving force behind the push to bring casino gaming to Massachusetts. (Complete Story)

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NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

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NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

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NEWS: Michael J. Malik, Sr.

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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