Mike Ilitch, who founded Little Caesars and who owned the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, died on Friday at the age of 87.
Ilitch took over on paying Parks’ rent in 1994 when he heard that there were some concerns over her welfare and safety when she became the victim of assault and robbery. He continued to pay her rent up until she died in 2005.
“It’s important that people know what Mr. Mike Ilitch did for Ms. Rosa Parks because it’s symbolic of what he has always done for the people of our city,” ~ U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith said in 2014.
The Chicago Blackhawks played their final game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit tonight. Opened in 1979, the NHL Red Wings ownership made a bold move locating the arena in downtown Detroit when the city was attempting to revitalize the district amid crumbling urban blight. Around the same time, the NFL Lions and the NBA Pistons fled the city for Pontiac, Michigan, some 30 miles outside of downtown Detroit. My first visit to Detroit was 1980 when I attended a jazz festival in downtown Detroit. From that point, I spent the next two decades traveling to Detroit for business on a regular basis. The Joe was the first NHL stadium outside of Chicago that I ever visited. I went to many games during those twenty years and still have vivid memories of seeing Steve Yzerman play in his rookie year. Having grown up a Blackhawks fan in Chicago during the “Original Six” era, I always loved the rivalry between the Hawks and the Wings. And having been to some other stadiums around the league, I have to say that Blackhawks and Red Wings fans are the most enthusiastic. Now, with the Blackhawks separated from the rest of the Original Six by conferences, they only play Detroit twice a year, once in each city. So the rivalry is gone and now The Joe will be gone. However, with the new arena opening later this year, the good news for Detroit is that now all the major sports teams - Red Wings, Pistons, Lions and Tigers - are all in the same vicinity, straddling the line between the Downtown and Midtown districts. Along with the Fox Theater, the Casino, and some good bars and restaurants, the city center has finally become the entertainment destination they were hoping to be back during my first visit in 1980.