In all of their business ventures, the Ilitches have remained true to their roots in Detroit. Due to their passion for their work and their hometown, the Ilitches have invested in various food, sports, entertainment and education ventures in the city of Detroit.
Today, the Ilitches are part of two of the most exciting teams in professional sports: the Detroit Red Wings (purchased by Mike and Marian in 1982) and the Detroit Tigers (purchased by Mike in 1992). Under Ilitch ownership, the Red Wings have won 16 divisional championships, six President’s Trophies (for the season-best record among all NHL teams), six Campbell Bowls and four Stanley Cups. The team has played post-season hockey for 25 consecutive years — the most in all of current professional sports. In 2014, ground was broken on a new home for the Red Wings, now called Little Caesars Arena, which forms the heart of The District Detroit. This project, led by Olympia Development, is designed to renovate 50 blocks of Detroit into a walkable, five-neighborhood community with residential, sports and entertainment venues.
In 2000, doors opened to a new, $295-million ballpark for the Tigers, which was brought to life by the Ilitch’s real estate development and management company, Olympia Entertainment. In 2006, the Tigers captured the American League pennant for the first time in 22 years and they repeated this feat in 2012. The Tigers also won the Central Division for four consecutive years, from 2011 through 2014.
In 1987, the Ilitches purchased the long-neglected Fox Theatre and restored the 5,000-seat theatre built in 1928 to its original splendor. They reopened its doors in November 1989, which sparked a revival of the Detroit theatre district. Today, the Fox Theatre continues to attract record crowds for a mix of concerts, theatre performances, family shows and restored classic films. In 1996, the Ilitches created Olympia Development, L.L.C., to focus on a variety of projects in downtown Detroit. This same year, the Olympia Stadium Corporation was renamed Olympia Entertainment to reflect the management company's expanded operations and venues. In 1999, Hockeytown Café opened under the management of Olympia Entertainment. It has been hailed as one of the top sports bars in the country.
In 1999, Marian Ilitch invested in MotorCity Casino in Detroit and became its sole owner in April 2005. In 2008, MotorCity Casino completed a $300 million expansion project.
In 2015, the Ilitches made their mark on academics in Detroit when they announced the donation of $40 million to create the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. The donation is the largest single donation in the school’s history and the tenth largest donation to a public university in the United States.