The idea of issuing bonds to help finance a new baseball stadium for the Detroit Tigers has surfaced again.
The Detroit News reported this month that Michigan's commerce director, Arthur Ellis, has proposed creating a stadium authority that would issue $200 million of bonds backed by 4% of the revenues from two proposed Native American casinos in downtown Detroit.
But Nancy Hillegonds, Ellis' executive assistant, said Ellis has no plan. Instead. as Gov. John Engler's point man on a possible new stadium, Ellis is simply listening to other people's plans and passing them on to the governor, she said.
"The state is in no way, shape, or form building a new Tiger Stadium," she said. "We're talking to people interested in seeing a stadium financed through the issuance of bonds."
Hillegonds said she did not know who is pushing the bonding plan.
If gaming revenues are vital to that proposal, it could be a while before the state would be able to consider sanctioning the tribal casinos in Detroit. John Truscott, Engler's spokesman, said there "is no way" the governor would approve any more Indian casinos until he negotiates compacts with tribes for existing casinos.
As for a new ballpark, Truscott said Engler has no position except that if one is built, no state general fund money would be used.
Susan Sherbow, a spokeswoman for Mike Ilitch, the owner of Little Caesars Pizza who bought the Tigers last summer, said that Ilitch has not Made any announcement on whether he will build a new stadium or use the present ballpark.
"We continue to consider all the options," Sherbow said, adding that a decision by Ilitch could come as early as next month.
When Ilitch bought the team, a bonding plan put together by Wayne County was forwarded to him. That plan called for a combination of tax-exempt debt backed by special county tax revenues and taxable debt backed by team revenues to build a $200 million stadium.