Clevelanders Bring Quicken Protest To Detroit

Protestors opposing a deal for public financing of a

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is also a founder of Detroit-based Quicken Loans.

Courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers
– Quicken Loans Arena Rendering
An artist rendering of what Quicken Loans Arena will look like from the street after its $140 million renovation.

About 150 protestors made the trek to downtown Detroit March 21 for a noontime rally outside Quicken Loans’ headquarters, charging they are “not all in” on a renovation of the 20,750-capacity arena. The upgrade’s estimated $282 million cost could include up to $160 million in public funding, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The protesters complain “the deal is part of a larger pattern of business and political leaders in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County spending lavishly to fix up the city’s downtown while some of the town’s most distressed neighborhoods are awash in unemployment, vacancy, violence and an epidemic of opioid addiction,” the paper reports.

Those speaking at the rally, including several representatives of faith organizations, said they haven’t been able to get a meeting with Gilbert to “begin a dialogue.”

They compared problems in Cleveland with those of Detroit and “face violence, troubled schools and lack of employment options for some of the city’s poorest residents.” According to protestors, the city needs millions of dollars of investment in job training, capital improvement, and mental health and substance abuse programs in poorer neighborhoods, rather than more shiny buildings in the city’s downtown.

Gilbert isn’t new to the issue of downtown investment – he faces it in Detroit, too. He has reportedly lobbied Michigan lawmakers to allow tax incentives for projects like his own proposal to build a new office tower in downtown Detroit that would become the city’s tallest skyscraper.

He and fellow billionaire Tom Gores, owner of the Detroit Pistons, hope to build a new arena for a Major League Soccer expansion team using tax credits.