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Ilitch recognized at Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund event

The Detroit News

The Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit awarded Christopher Ilitch its Goodfellow of the Year award Friday at Cobo Center.

The award is the highlight of the nonprofit’s 26th annual Tribute Breakfast. Among the guests to honor the president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. and chairman of Ilitch Charities was Gov. Rick Snyder.

Afterward, Ilitch said the new Red Wings arena, which is being built on Woodward just north of downtown, is on schedule and ready to open in September 2017.

“It will be dripping with Red Wings and musical heritage,” he said.

Of the entertainment district surrounding the new arena just north of Interstate 75, Ilitch said the proposed new neighborhood will result in his family spending or generating more than $200 million in private investment. Plans call for the arena, housing, offices and retail in the 45-block area.

He also said there have been no thoughts on a name for the new arena. The Red Wings play downtown at Joe Louis Arena, which the city leases to Olympia Entertainment, which is part of Ilitch-controlled empire that includes the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Little Caesars pizza.

The Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award is presented to distinguished and noteworthy individuals who have significantly contributed to the community.

The breakfast raises money toward the Goodfellow’s 2015 fundraising goal of $1.1 million. The group, in its 100th year, provides 34,000 holiday gift packages containing clothes, books, candy and toys for children in need from Detroit, Highland Park, Harper Woods, River Rouge and Hamtramck.

Among those in attendance were Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Mike and Marian Ilitch, previous Goodfellows of the Year awardees, and their daughters Carol and Lisa, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

WJR-AM (760) personality Paul W. Smith emceed the event and the nationally acclaimed Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences Choir performed before the roughly 1,000 guests in attendance.