One Industry Booming in Detroit? Pro Sports

While city goes broke, players and teams are flush with cash

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 14, 2013 7:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – It isn't all doom and gloom in Detroit. At least one industry is still making bank, reports the New York Times: Pro sports. The Tigers have the highest salaries in the league. The Lions recently offered their quarterback $53 million for another three years. And the Pistons just spent $80 million on two second-tier recruits. But for some Motor City residents, the teams' success isn't a point of pride. "There’s a lot of disposable cash around, but it’s not intended for the right things or right people," says a 79-year-old who sells Tigers merchandise at Comerica Park. "We need jobs for the city people, for the black folk."

"We definitely are aware of the situation of where we play,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said recently when asked if he felt guilty about his $3 million salary. The team's manager, who earns $2 million a year, pointed out that many of the players make charitable donations, noting that pitcher Justin Verlander—who just signed a $180 million contract for seven years—recently donated $1 million to local war vets. Meanwhile, residents are unhappy that public money is being spent on a $650 million development project centered around a new Red Wings stadium. The team's owner says it will create 8,300 jobs, but others think it's the wrong place for public funds when the rest of the city is falling apart. "It’s really troubling to me to see that much public money going to build a new stadium when there’s catastrophe in the neighborhoods," says one local.

Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot, rallies the crowd.
Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot, rallies the crowd.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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