Saturday, March 28, 2009

Former Ilitch partner bids to takeover troubled Detroit Casino


Tom Celani makes bid for Greektown Casino

By Nancy Kaffer

Longtime Detroit casino advocate Tom Celani said he’s making a bid for the troubled Greektown Casino. Celani owns a host of business ventures including Luna Entertainment in Novi, Farmington Hills-based Motor City Harley-Davidson and Napa Valley, Calif.-based Celani Family Vineyards.

He was instrumental in financing a 1996 statewide ballot referendum that approved gaming in Michigan, according to a 2007 Crain’s profile of Celani, and once was a partner in MotorCity Casino L.L.C., selling his share to current owner Marian Ilitch in 2005.

Greektown Casino entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, but Celani said he believes the casino can emerge profitably.

“With the right people in place, absolutely,” he said. “But you’ve got to put the right people in place. The best option would be someone like myself that lives here and has a passion for gaming.”

The Greektown offer is a joint venture between Celani and Greenwich, Conn.-based Plainfield Asset Management L.L.C., Celani said, as LPF Holdings. Celani says he is competing against other bidders in the process.

Monday, March 23, 2009

To renovate or abandon historic Joe Louis Arena

Originally published 3.22.09 as a sidebar to comprehensive coverage surrounding a Crain's Detroit Business story, "Where will Wings roost? Joe Louis Arena lease nears end:"


  • Speculation on a site for a new arena include property west of Woodward Avenue behind the Ilitch-owned Fox Theatre, where the family already owns land; along Temple Street between the Ilitch-owned MotorCity Casino and the Ilitch-operated Masonic Temple; and the triangular site between Grand River, Cass Avenue and south of I-75.

  • A new stadium could cost $200 million-$300 million.

  • Renovating Joe Louis reportedly could cost $180 million or more.

Highlights of current Ilitch hockey arena lease

Originally published 3.22.09 as a sidebar to comprehensive coverage surrounding a Crain's Detroit Business story, "Where will Wings roost? Joe Louis Arena lease nears end:"


The Ilitch family’s lease for its Red Wings to play at Joe Louis Arena is part of the Cobo Arena master lease. The deal includes:

  • The city provides free police and landscaping services, including snow removal, for both the Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Arena, and up to $500,000 annually for capital improvements for the hockey venue.

  • The Ilitches pay property taxes on city-owned Joe Louis, but they are capped at $252,000 annually. Without the cap, the tax would be about $1 million.

  • The Ilitches pay $25,000 monthly rent for Joe Louis and $12,500 for Cobo.

  • Detroit collects a 10 percent ticket tax for Joe Louis events and a 7.5 percent ticket tax for Cobo events. The city collects a surcharge of 10 percent on concessions and 7 percent on suite sales.

  • If the lease is renewed, the city immediately loses the ticket taxes and in five years loses the surcharge on concessions and suites.

  • A new arena would mean the city could charge for police and snow services and collect full property taxes on the venue. The city also could lose its ticket, concession and suites surcharges. All this depends, of course, on a new lease or stadium deal, its financing and who owns the new venue.

Latest comprehensive update on Ilitch hockey arena saga


Where will Wings roost? Joe Louis Arena lease nears end
Cobo expansion complicates plans for Joe Louis

By Bill Shea

Mike Ilitch has until June 30 to say if he’ll modernize The Joe or build a new facility.

The ongoing saga of whether to renovate the Joe Louis Arena or build a new home elsewhere in the city for the Detroit Red Wings has entered its version of hockey's third period — and the team owner can force overtime by negotiating an extension on a lease with the city.

Mike Ilitch, the team's owner since 1982, has until June 30 to tell Detroit if he will modernize the 30-year-old, city-owned arena or construct a new venue that likely would cost $200 million to $300 million.

Talks have been ongoing for several years between the Ilitch organization and the quasi-public Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

Even with the clock ticking, no offers are on the table, those involved say.

Adding spice to the drama... (Original Story & extras)

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