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City Council/Residents Discuss New Detroit Red Wings Arena

DETROIT (WWJ) - Plans for a new half-billion-dollar hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings are moving forward; and the proposed arena was up for discussion before Detroit City Council on Thursday... a week before council will vote on the project.

Council president Brenda Jones expressed concern about getting a written agreement on job guarantees for Detroiters once the arena is built.

"We are currently dealing with a situation right now with another company who set up business, got tax abatements, said they were going to give jobs to Detroit residents; and the contractors, believe it or not the skilled trades, are the ones that are complaining that there are no jobs for Detroit residents," said Jones.

She was referring to an issue with Marathon, in which jobs were promised to Detroit residents and now contractors are complaining that isn't happening.

"Our track record, the percentage of Detroit residents, just by us doing what we do everyday, has been spectacular," said Greg Solomon, the project lead for Olympia Development.

Also, John Graves of Olympia Development addressed Jones' concerns about hiring Detroiters once the arena is built.

"Detroit Works, Detroit Employment Solutions, Focus Hope, SER Metro and others who are in Detroit; so if we recruit from those organizations, then the number's unlimited in terms of the Detroit residents that could be hired post construction," said Graves.

However, Jones was not satisfied.

"That's not sufficient for me. It's just not sufficient for me. And again I really want to see the project proceed, but at the same time I also have to protect the interest of the residents in the city of Detroit," said Jones.

Also at City Hall, residents again had a chance to voice their opinions to members of city council. Larry Brinker, a commercial contractor, spoke during the council session.

"I think it's an excellent project for the city," said Brinker.

But, Bill McMasters with Taxpayers United called it corporate welfare.

"We're looking at a city within a city being created. The people are being deprived of their constitutional rights, in the Michigan constitution, to vote on tax hikes and bond issues," said McMasters.

And Keith Hines with Hood Research also offered his opinion.

"Bloomberg is laughing at this deal. They think Detroit is the dumbest people in the world," said Hines.

The council is expected to vote on the project next week.

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