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HBO to air segment critical of District Detroit

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“Motown Blues,” about the unfulfilled promises by Olympia Entertainment, will appear on Real Sports

Michelle Gerard

Detroiters have been voicing their growing displeasure with the unfulfilled promises of District Detroit, the area around Little Caesars Arena that Olympia Entertainment said would be a lively hub of commercial and residential activity. Instead, there’s little but surface parking lots.

Though the complaints have gone unheeded by the Ilitch family who owns the arena, a media giant has taken note: HBO. The premium cable network is set to air a segment on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, titled “Motown Blues,” examining the lack of development in District Detroit. It will air Tuesday, April 23 at 10 p.m.

The preview clip on YouTube shows aerial shots of undeveloped land downtown, and interviews with newly-elected Representative Rashida Tlaib and Francis Grunow, a member of the Neighborhood Advisory Council that was assembled to negotiate benefits prior to the arena construction.

“I do understand these things take time,” Grunow says in the clip, “but, you know, they opened the arena on time, ahead of schedule. They know how to do things when they want to do things.”

In the segment, according to HBO,

David Scott examines whether government officials in Michigan gave a sweetheart arena deal to the wealthy Ilitch family despite Detroit facing an 18 billion-dollar bankruptcy—the largest of any city in U.S. history.

The project received $324 million in public financing.

The Detroit News notes that the only new developments in the district outside of Little Caesars Arena are directly related the interests of Ilitch Holdings: Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business and the Little Caesars headquarters. The Ilitch organization did not respond to a request for an interview by the paper.