In a 5-4 vote, the Detroit City Council today approved a five-year lease agreement with Olympic Entertainment for the Joe Louis Arena and parking structure. The deal is expected to bring $5.2 million to the city in cable fees, rent and other payments during the next five years. The Detroit News reports:
The new lease — which replaces the original 1978 agreement that expired July 1, 2010 — calls for rent of $1 million a year. Olympia Entertainment — part of the Detroit business empire owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch — also will pay the city about $100,000 a year for police fees.
While the City Council approved the deal, it was the city’s bankruptcy lawyers who negotiated it, the Detroit Free Press reports. One of them addressed concerns that the cable fees were too low, given previous estimates they could total tens of millions of dollars:
A lawyer for Jones Day, however, told the council today that the estimate was exaggerated, and he questioned the city’s chances of winning a lawsuit to recover the cable TV money. … Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, who voted against the lease, said Detroit is not getting enough out of the deal, considering it is in the midst of the country’s largest ever municipal bankruptcy. “We are bankrupt,” she said after today’s meeting. “We are continually cutting from the working class people when there could be a $50 million to $80 million revenue,” she said.
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was a partner at Jones Day before resigning to accept the Detroit post a year ago.
Council President Brenda Jones, and members Scott Benson, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and Mary Sheffield voted against the proposal. Castaneda-Lopez wanted to eliminate from the lease a non-compete clause that prohibits the city from using Joe Louis Arena for events after the Red Wings leave. Her request was not granted.