Once Thriving Michigan Town Tanked By Recession : NPR
Mr. LEEB: Well, there are really three basic things you can do in any you turnaround. One is to increase revenue, another is to decrease expense. But the third is to take assets that are being unproductive and convert them into something that can be valuable again. So, in the case of the Silverdome, there's a stadium that had been built in 1975, so that's 35 years ago. It's also been empty for eight years and has been costing a million and a half a year just to maintain an empty building. It was obvious to me that that just could not go on. So, my thinking was the way to do it was to set a final endpoint, which was an auction, and give it to a person who can operate it in a professional manner. And that's actually what's happening. A person from Toronto bought it. And he is intending to use it again.
MARTIN: Is this the thing, though, that just is seems kind of stick in people's craw? It just feels, what, like humiliating for some reason or...
Mr. LEEB: There are some people who thinks it's humiliating but those people would also feel like it's better to spend the city's hard earned tax dollars on an empty building than to have critically-needed city employees, like police. The reason I bring up police is that three, four years ago the city's police department had about 170 officers, now it has about 70. So, which would you rather have, you know, a few policemen coming back or an empty building doing nothing?
MARTIN: What's been the hardest decision that you have had to make since you have been doing this job? Is there anything that's kind of made your stomach hurt even a little?
Mr. LEEB: What makes my stomach hurt is wasting money when I see people in need. There are people that don't have enough money to repair their windows in the wintertime or don't have enough money to live in an apartment. I mentioned before you started talking here on the radio that a person died today in an abandoned building. Those are the kind of people I feel sorry about because the city doesn't have enough money to provide for those people.