Thursday, January 7, 2010

Volume 4, Number 6: Detroit's Blight Problems... and a Pay-Per-View Solution

(Note: I posted this entry to my Yahoo! GeoCities blog on May 20, 2009.)

In a previous blog entry (Kwame Is Out!), I touched upon the urban blight that is abundant in Detroit--the abandoned warehouses, factories, houses and other buildings that need to be torn down. You already know about this, it's old news. You've heard about the train depot in recent news, and may have read about such relics as the old Studebaker-Packard plant. I drove down 7 Mile Road in '94 (my father's drugstore used to be by 7 and Livernois) and saw nothing but long stretches of abandoned buildings that once housed specialty stores and other small businesses.

The city has enough buildings for the population it once had (around 2 million in 1950), but now only has around 930,000 people; there's no excuse not to destroy buildings no longer usable or fit for human habitation. If the city's so-called leadership would tear them down, that would be fantastic.

Instead, we have buildings decaying for years before ultimately being torn down (like the Hudson's Department Store building, which did nothing but gather moss for 15 years before finally being imploded in 1998)--if they get torn down at all. The train depot has gotten to the point that restoring it would cost much more than the building is worth--and why restore it if there's no purpose for the building to serve afterwards? Same way with Tiger Stadium. Every other stadium--Ebbetts Field, Forbes Field, all those multipurpose round stadiums that got built in the '70s, they all got demolished regardless of the sentimental value attached to them. With Tiger Stadium, part of it is still standing while people waste time and money trying to preserve it. I am reminded of old Olympia Stadium (where the Red Wings used to play before they moved to Joe Louis Arena in the late '70s); that arena, too, sat for about eight years before finally being demolished.

Solution? Create a pay-per-view event where a whole bunch of Detroit buildings are demolished in quick succession over the course of three hours--the train depot, Tiger Stadium, the Studebaker-Packard plant, and as for that Harper/Piquette/Mansur/Hastings grayfield I talked about in the aforementioned "Kwame Is Out!" blog entry, you could have an aerial bombing... if you think I'm joking, just remember that in 1985, Vince McMahon used pay-per-view to turn what once was a low-rent form of television (pro wrestling) into a multi-million dollar industry. I'm sure a lot of suburbanites have been willing to pay good money to see Detroit make some progress, and a pay-per-view like this is a more realistic way for the city to raise sorely-needed funds than, say, trying to get people to come back to Detroit as it stands right now.

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