BCBSM CEO Dan Loepp: Ilitch investment in Detroit is biggest and boldest yet

BCBSM CEO Dan Loepp: Ilitch investment in Detroit is biggest and boldest yet

When it’s all said and done in 2017, the Detroit Red Wings will have a new arena that is among the very best venues in the National Hockey League. And that’s just for starters. When Chris Ilitch unveiled the plans for the arena, they were just part of an ambitious blueprint for a major entertainment, retail and residential district on the northern edge of downtown Detroit.

Ilitch called it “a very exciting and bold vision.” That’s saying something when you look at all of the investments the Ilitch family has made in Detroit over the past six decades. Since Mike and Marian Ilitch opened the first Little Caesars 55 years ago, they have not only built one of the nation’s most visible brand names, they have created a diverse and extremely successful business enterprise with downtown Detroit as its anchor.

They have dedicated themselves to investing in and improving the city. The renovation of the historic Fox Theatre, building a new home for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park and opening Motor City Casino stand out as examples of investments by the Ilitch family that have ultimately inspired others to invest in Detroit too.

With his unveiling of plans for the new Red Wings stadium, Chris Ilitch is carrying on a family tradition. This $650 million project will be about much more than home ice. It will be about building a home for thousands of current and new Detroiters to live, work and play, creating a district that hums with activity 365 days a year even when the Wings are not in action.

This is a game-changing effort by a family that has been about helping Detroit win for a long time. It sustains the momentum we are seeing all around, including last week’s commitment by Blue Cross and others to support the Detroit Institute of Arts and retirees in the Detroit bankruptcy grand bargain.

Today, there is more buzz, more action and more hope for the City of Detroit than there has been in a long time. And with the announcement of this bold vision by the Ilitch family, the movement to revitalize Detroit grows even stronger.

I am proud of the dedication Mike, Marian, Chris and the rest of the Ilitch family have shown to supporting Detroit and I am proud to be on the same team with them when it comes to building a bright future for this great city.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

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