Olympia New Masonic Members

Olympia Entertainment announced February 19th it will operate and manage the historic Masonic Temple in Detroit.

Masonic Temple owners expect to generate enough cash from the deal to pay off unpaid taxes dating to 2005 and other delinquent bills. The venue owed $123,455 in property taxes and faced foreclosure March 1st, according to the Detroit News. Olympia is expected to manage all operations, including booking, event management, marketing, catering, special events, hospitality and parking, according to a statement.

The Masonic Temple is the largest building of its kind in the world, and houses the 4,300-seat Masonic Temple Theatre and the 1,600-seat Scottish Rite Theatre. The main stage has hosted Judy Garland, The Rolling Stones, Al Green, The Metropolitan Opera and Disney’s "The Lion King."

Olympia has been in talks with the masons for about a year, according to the News, and the facility management company will pay all of the temple’s outstanding bills. Details were not disclosed, but Masonic Temple Association President Bill Betz said the agreement, effective immediately, runs more than five years and "less than 20."

The deal is expected to expand the sports and entertainment empire of Olympia owner Mike Ilitch and his family, which owns baseball’s Detroit Tigers, hockey’s Red Wings and the Little Caesars pizza chain, among others.

Patrick Dorn, executive director of the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corp., which rehabilitates and builds affordable housing near the Masonic Temple, speculated how Olympia might incorporate the building into the area.

One key would be linking the temple to the nearby Motorcity Hotel Casino, which Ilitch’s wife separately owns, via elevated tram or shuttle. This would allow casino visitors to see a show and return to the gambling tables, Dorn told the paper. He added that if Ilitch managed to develop apartments or lofts within the temple’s upper floors, it could lead to a nearby grocery store.

Olympia President Dana Warg said in a statement the Masonic will complement the company’s other properties in the market, mentioning Fox Theatre, Cobo Arena, Joe Louis Arena and Comerica Park.

The 14 Masonic lodges of the area are expected to maintain regular visits to the temple.