Monday, February 09, 2009

Expert says casinos won't help Detroit's convention prospects

Detroit: The odds are long

Las Vegas might have gaming to thank for at least getting it started down the road to its exalted tradeshow status. So shouldn’t the same strategy work elsewhere? Apparently, it hasn’t been enough for hard-hit Detroit, which boasts three casinos.

According to William Thompson, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Detroit has a fine convention facility in Cobo Center, “but casinos won’t help.”

Thompson added, “There isn’t much in Detroit in the way of nightclubs and restaurants, its image is bad and its hotels aren’t inexpensive.”

David Austin, director of sales and marketing at Cobo Center, agreed that negative perceptions are a continuous struggle and Chris Baum, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau senior vice president of sales and marketing, acknowledged that Detroit isn’t many planners’ first choice. However, convention business that was booked years before the recession will tide the city over, he added.

Still, corporate meeting business is “horrible,” Baum said, which is why, although the CVB’s marketing department has experienced some staff attrition and may send three people, instead of four, to industry tradeshows, “we’re still marketing very aggressively.”

Austin said the CVB has done a great job letting people know that this isn’t the same old Detroit.

“I grew up here,” Austin added. “When I returned in 2003 after 17 years, a change had truly occurred, and today Detroit is being transformed. Invariably, when meeting planners visit for the first time, the positive comments are, 'I didn’t know Detroit was like this,’ or, 'This is not what I was expecting.’ So, if we can overcome this perception issue, we certainly can beat this economic downturn.”

Michigan only has three non-Indian gaming licenses, all in Detroit. Even so, Thompson said it is hard to see how the presence of the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel or Greektown Casino have stimulated the tourism or tradeshow business. Most casino visitors come from within 50 miles of the city; otherwise, the state has 20 Indian-owned casinos to satisfy gamblers, he added.

Each of the Detroit casinos has a hotel with about 400 rooms, but they haven’t been much help drawing convention or tradeshow attendees to town, Thompson said.

“The casino hotels are small and not luxurious,” he added.

Nevertheless, Austin said there hasn’t been much of a downturn in Cobo tradeshows.

“We have a decent 2009 lined up and 2010 is shaping up as the best year at Cobo since 2003, but, obviously, with the automotive industry taking a huge hit, everybody is tightening their belts,” he said.

Austin noted that 2006 union work rule changes at Cobo now allow exhibitors and show management to do more of their own work, and recent legislation will create an authority to operate Cobo, as well as generate funds for a renovation and expansion.

Chris McClain, director of the MGM Grand Detroit, which opened in October 2007, said he is encouraged by the city’s potential for conventions and meetings. “We have remained steady in comparison with 2008 and our 2009 projections,” McClain added.

–Gary Tufel

BusinessWeek: Detroit Tigers, Inc. like CCM Merger is a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

BusinessWeek's profile of Detroit Tigers, Inc.:
    Detroit Tigers, Inc. offers sports and entertainment services. The company manages a professional baseball team that participates in Major League Baseball. Additionally, it auctions game memorabilia and markets match tickets, sports merchandise, apparels, and accessories through its Website. The company was formed in 1901 and is based in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit Tigers, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings Inc.
BusinessWeek's profile of CCM Merger, Inc. (parent of Detroit Entertainment LLC which does business as MotorCity Casino) indicates it too is a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

John M. Kotlar, VP of Tax Affairs at Ilitch Holdings is Resident Agent for Ilitch Holdings, Inc., CCM Merger, Inc. and Detroit Tigers, Inc. CCM Merger, Inc.; Detroit Entertainment, LLC; Ilitch Holdings, Inc.; Detroit Tigers, Inc.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

BusinessWeek: Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

BusinessWeek's profile of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.:

    Ilitch Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in sports, entertainment, food distribution, and real estate development businesses in the United States and internationally. The company owns and operates Detroit Tigers baseball team and Detroit Red Wing hockey team, as well as provides sports premiere franchises. It also owns and operates carryout pizza chain and restaurants; theatres that provides performances, concerts, broadway shows, classic movies, and family entertainment; and a hamburger and malt shop, which offers hamburgers, hand-dipped shakes and malts, American fries, sandwiches, flavored soda pop, and baked apple pies. The company also owns and operates a sports bar; and a gift shop that offers various gifts, including furniture, pottery, crystal, china, jewelry, frames, and children's toys and clothes, as well as engages in booking and operating arenas and comerica parks. In addition, it offers a fundraising program for schools, churches, sports teams, and various nonprofit organizations; and engages in the real estate development activities. Further, the company operates as a foodservice distributor and restaurant equipment provider; and manufactures private label and branded food products, including packaged retail pizza, par-baked pizza crusts, and tubs of cookie dough products for foodservice distributors, restaurant chains, industrial toppers, schools, universities, and supermarkets. Ilitch Holdings, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is based in Detroit, Michigan with distribution centers in the United States and Canada.
In a separate BusinessWeek profile, CCM Merger, Inc. (parent of Detroit Entertainment LLC which does business as MotorCity Casino) is reported as a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

BusinessWeek also reports Detroit Tigers, Inc. is as a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. CCM Merger, Inc.; Detroit Entertainment, LLC; Ilitch Holdings, Inc.; Detroit Tigers, Inc.

Ilitch Assault & Battery arrest tied to latest lawsuit alleging Ilitch Conspiracy



Frank Witsil
Free Press Staff Writer

Ron Ilitch, one of Detroit Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch's sons, was arraigned Wednesday and charged with two counts of domestic violence for allegedly twice beating his former girlfriend, Lisa Wood, at his Troy home.

Wood of West Bloomfield told police Ron Ilitch also assaulted her in Aurora, Colo., on July 10.

Police said the Michigan incidents occurred on June 24 and Aug. 1. Ron Ilitch was released Wednesday on bond of $10,000 after pleading not guilty in 52-4 District Court in Troy. Bond conditions included counseling for substance abuse and no contact with Wood.

"There is a lot I don't know yet," said Ilitch's attorney Harold Fried.

However, he said, in domestic violence allegations, there often is more than one version of events.

Each charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail, police said.

According to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office, Ilitch and Wood argued at Ilitch's Troy home on Caitlin Court on June 24. He allegedly hit her, causing bruising and a swollen eye and hand. She initially did not report the incident, said Charles Claus, warrants division chief with the prosecutor's office.

Later, they went on vacation to Colorado, Claus said. On the way, they stopped at Valley Community Hospital in Peru, Ill., where Wood was treated for her injuries, Claus said.

On July 10, Wood reported she was assaulted again, Aurora Police Detective Larry Martinez said.

On Aug. 1, after the couple returned, Wood told police she was assaulted a third time.

She said Ilitch hit her in both arms. She ran from the house to a neighbor's home, called Troy police and went to a local hospital for treatment, Claus said.

Wood could not be reached for comment. Ilitch is due back in court Sept. 16.

Mike Ilitch founded Little Caesars pizza restaurant in suburban Detroit in 1959. The family's business holdings now include the Detroit Red Wings, the Tigers, the Fox Theatre and Hockeytown Cafe.

NOTE: Ron Ilitch would ultimately plea "No Contest" to these charges.

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