Associated Press Writer
A feature film being shot at Tiger Stadium may mark the last time the old ballpark is used before it becomes a memory itself.
"The Irishman" tells the story of 1970s Cleveland-area union organizer and mobster Danny Greene. The picture stars Ray Stevenson, Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio and Christopher Walken.
The movie is being shot in Detroit through June, and filmmakers wanted to use "some kind of iconic landmark that was in Detroit ... even though we're going to play it for Cleveland," said Bart Rosenblatt, the film's producer.
Tiger Stadium, which opened in 1912 as Navin Field, was a perfect choice, Rosenblatt said, even if it meant tweaking the script to have it replace a boxing arena in one scene.
"It has a great look," he said.
Filming at the stadium was set for Thursday evening.
The Tigers departed the ballpark for nearby Comerica Park after the 1999 season. Wrecking crews went to work last June, and much of the stadium was torn down by fall.
A section stretching from dugout to dugout was left standing while a nonprofit group sought to raise money to preserve and redevelop the stadium as a commercial building with a working ballfield. But the city's Economic Development Corp. board voted Tuesday to reject the $33.4 million plan, saying the funding wasn't in place.
Complete demolition could begin as early as Monday, according to the city's Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Supporters of saving the stadium gathered there Wednesday evening after demolition equipment began to arrive.
Rosenblatt grew up in Boston attending games at Fenway Park -- which opened the same day as Tiger Stadium -- and said it's a shame the Detroit landmark soon may be gone.
"There aren't many of these ballparks left," he said.
By Mike Ball
A couple of weeks ago my family made our first trip to Comerica Park to see a Detroit Tigers game. I have to admit that while we’re all long-time Tiger fans, I have not been in a big hurry to go down there – and only partly because I resent having to apply for a home equity loan to pay for a couple of plastic cups full of lukewarm beer.
My biggest issue with Comerica Park is that I really loved the old Tiger Stadium, a place where you could save a few dollars and buy “obstructed view” seats. This meant sitting directly behind a steel I-beam support, so pretty much all you would see of the game was that beam and the hot dog vendor.
Even so, there was always a lot of noise in that old park, the hot dogs were pretty good, and on your way in and out you got to feast your eyes on the greenest green you’ll find anywhere in the world – Tiger Stadium grass.
I think part of the attraction was the history of the place. The first ballpark built at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull was Bennett Park, carved in 1895 out of an old-growth forest. The management at the time was way out ahead of the curve on that whole idea of obstructed view seating, since they decided to leave eight of the biggest elm and oak trees in the outfield.
In 1912, when they remodeled the park for the new century and named it Navin Field, they took out the trees and installed a 125-foot flag pole in center field that set a record as the tallest obstacle ever built in fair territory in a major league ball park. For years the charm of watching a game from the bleachers was made even better by the occasional thud of a center fielder smashing into that flag pole.
I should point out that I did not become a Tiger fan until I moved to Michigan in the mid-1970s and fell in love with the old ball park. Back then the Tigers themselves were pretty much an acquired taste, like drinking Irish whiskey or having a mule kick you repeatedly in the side of the head. You see, the Tigers had won a World Series in 1968, and something in that experience apparently convinced them that they would better off if they were to almost completely avoid winning for about the next 15 years.
By the mid-‘70s, Detroit’s success-oriented fans were staying away from the Tigers in droves, which in turn meant that my wife and I could usually wander down to Tiger Stadium on the just about any day and drop a few dollars on great seats to a game featuring the strange and wonderful assortment of lunatics that made up the Tigers’ roster.
When I first got to Detroit, the Tigers had a first baseman named Norm Cash, who once came to bat against Nolan Ryan swinging a table leg. They also had a third baseman named Aurelio Rodriguez, who could throw a ball over to first about as hard as anyone on the planet, but who might as well have been swinging Cash’s table leg at the plate. He was from Mexico, and in interviews he sounded exactly like the old Saturday Night Live parody of the Latin ball player; “Baseball ‘been ‘berry, ‘berry good to me.”
Al Kaline, one of the greatest right fielders of all time, retired in 1974 and become a broadcaster. In 1971 Kaline had turned down a raise that would have given him the first $100,000 salary in Tigers history, saying that he didn’t feel that he had played well enough that year to earn it. In 1972 he played a little better and took the dough.
Does anybody besides me think Mr. Kaline could have done the Detroit Pistons a favor and had a little mid-season chat with Allen Iverson?
There was a pitcher named John Hiller, who once showed up sporting a nasty-looking Fu Manchu and a shaved head just to psych out batters, and another one named Dave Rozema who messed up his knee and probably his career trying to execute a flying kung-fu kick during a bench-clearing brawl.
And then there was Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. My wife and I happened to be sitting behind third base on the evening Fidrych made his first home start, crawling around on his knees to groom the mound, talking to the ball and bounding around the infield to congratulate teammates for making nice plays. He also threw the liveliest fastball I’ve ever seen, and a diabolical slider.
After one loony but brilliant season, The Bird tore his rotator cuff trying to pitch on a bad knee, and never made it back to major league form. The gentle grace and good humor he used to deal with his too-short career made his accidental death earlier this year seem all the more tragic.
Over the years I got to see a lot of baseball and even another World Series victory in Tiger Stadium. Some of the players were great, some just greatly interesting: Alan Trammell, John B. Wockenfuss, Lou Whitaker, Rusty Staub, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Cecil Fielder, Todd Jones and many others. Now, the Stadium and all those guys are gone from the game.
OK, I’ll admit it – Comerica Park is really nice. There are good restaurants, real bathrooms, a Ferris wheel and no obstructed view seats. The Tigers of today are all fine professional athletes who seem to know quite a bit more about winning than the guys in the ‘70s did.
And the grass in Comerica is pretty green, too. Maybe it’s not the greenest possible green that it was all those years ago at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull – but I guess I can try to get used to it.
Wind turbine company Danotek Motion Technologies has opened a new manufacturing center in Canton, Michigan.
“Michigan has the chance to become a leader in wind energy,” said Dan Gizaw, president and CEO of Danotek. “The state's existing manufacturing and engineering infrastructure, skilled labour force and national ranking in wind generation capacity make it a perfect location for Danotek operations.”
During a tour of the new Motown Motion Picture LLC studios at 1999 Centerpoint Parkway, company president Linden Nelson said he met Spielberg at a Hollywood gathering, where Spielberg told him he wanted to use the Silverdome in a movie project he was developing.
“Spielberg is looking forward to doing things in Michigan. He is very interested in the Silverdome,” Nelson said. “He is looking to do a movie to star the Silverdome.”
Nelson said the movie may hasten the sale of the dome.
Nelson also said that Ariel Emanuel, founder of the Endeavor Agency in Beverly Hills, Calif., and current partner William Morris-Endeavor Entertain ment, is on board with the Motown Motion Picture studio project.
Emanuel represents Hollywood stars such as Martin Scorsese, Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon, Larry David, Michael Moore, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Wahlberg, among others.
Nelson said that Emanuel has already promised to develop 20 films at the Motown Motion Picture site.
Among the dignitaries touring the new studio home, a former General Motors property, were Gov. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, auto recovery director Ed Montgomery and representatives of the city.
“It looks like a movie studio,” said Granholm, as she made her way though the lobby of the 410,000-square-foot building.
During a short comment session after the tour, Granholm spoke on diversifying Michigan’s economy and the importance of projects like the Motown Motion Picture LLC studio complex.“We are focused like a laser on saving what we can of our auto industry and diversifying the economy at the same time,” Granholm said.
A number of colleges and universities are expected to be involved in the Motown Motion Picture project, including Oakland University and Baker College.
Pontiac City Council President Arthur McClellan Jr., who used to work at the GM site, believes the building will be a ideal place to build a movie studio. McClellan works for General Motors.
“I am really excited about the educational component,” McClellan said. “I am looking forward to the groundbreaking.”
Nelson said he expects 700 to 800 students a day to be taking classes at the studio when the classes begin. The film classes should begin by September. There also is expected to be a 200,000-square-foot addition for sound stages added to the building.
Three thousand jobs are expected to be created at the site and an additional 10,000 jobs are expected to be created as a result of the studio being placed in Pontiac, Nelson said.
Nelson said the sale of the building by GM to Motown Motion Picture LLC has been completed.
Novi Artist Nina Cambron's one-of-a-kind art glass sculptures are adorning windows & desks in the Midtown Manhattan accounting firm, Eisner, LLP. Cambron incorporated the company's logo & colors into each of the 100 commissioned fused glass pieces.
Nina Cambron is known throughout the art community as an innovator in fused glass. Eisner, LLP, is known as one of the premier accounting and consulting firms in the United States. Eisner found Cambron via her website,http://www.ninacambron.com/ while searching for an artist to create unique handmade gifts for the partners in their Northeast office. Ms. Cambron bid on the project and was commissioned to design and execute 100 one-of-a-kind glass sculptures for the Manhattan office.
Previously, Cambron's work could only be found in galleries and private homes throughout the world. Entering the corporate arena was new to the artist, who embraced it as an exciting venture, wrought with potential. "I'd never done a commission of that magnitude - 100 unique pieces, in the same color palette, the same size, incorporating a corporate logo. With 6 months lead time, I was able to complete a few pieces at a time, allowing me to keep the sculptures fresh."
The discipline of the project reminded the artist of art school - an assignment to depict an object in numerous ways, in numerous techniques. The most gratifying part to Cambron, though, is hearing how the artwork was received and how the office is now spotted with her work. "I'm planning on visiting New York City this summer and Eisner's offices will be my first stop!"
Cambron recently launched a page on her website introducing her foray into corporate gifts.
She hopes to grow this segment of her business in the coming year and considers this the perfect opportunity to encourage the buying of American Made Craft. Cambron is a member of the American Made Alliance, whose mission is to preserve, promote and protect the value of American made products and their producers.
Fused glass, sometimes referred to as kiln formed glass, is a centuries old process that involves the layering of sheet glass that is then fired in a kiln at 1460 degrees fahrenheit.
Nina Cambron has been a self employed artist for over 30 years. She attended Cleveland Institue of Art & University of Michigan where she received a BFA degree. She is represented by over 50 galleries in the US. She maintains a studio in a suburb of Detroit.
The Ford Motor Company, said its market share rose to the highest level in three years. Ford said it would increase production by 6 percent, or 52,000 vehicles, through September.
The seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate for the industry was 9.91 million, the highest so far this year. Until 2008, automakers had been selling about 17 million vehicles a year for much of the last decade. G.M., once it restructures and emerges from bankruptcy, has predicted it can break even if industry sales are at least 10 million a year.
May was the best sales month of 2009 for General Motors.
“Does it mean we’ll continue to improve and we’re out of the woods? No, but it was a good month,” Ron Pinelli, the president of MotorIntelligence.com, said. “It’s certainly positive in that it’s not getting worse. All things considered you can’t expect some crazy miracle overnight.”
For the second consecutive month, Ford outsold Toyota.
“It’s become clear to the consumer that we’re going to emerge from this, that we’re going to be around to keep providing products to the marketplace and take care of their service needs and that G.M.’s going to be a viable enterprise,” Mark LaNeve, G.M.’s vice president for sales, service and marketing, said in a conference call Tuesday.
“I think we see from the May results that we’re going to be O.K.,” he added.
The firm was honored today in Troy, along with 49 other Michigan businesses, at the CORP! 2009 Michigan Economic Bright Spot awards ceremony.
According to CORP! magazine publisher, Jennifer Kluge, “Our state has reason to celebrate those companies who stand out from the crowd. They have made a conscious decision to stay in Michigan, despite opportunities to locate outside of the state. They have also experienced expansion and economic development.”
Nemeth Burwell, the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes, was recognized as one of Michigan’s economic bright spots because it has been adding attorneys and support staff.
“We are pleased to be a part of an awards program that looks positively at Michigan’s economic vitality. Our firm growth has been from the ground up and not the result of mergers or acquisitions. We have been able to grow through strategic hires at our own pace, reinforcing that our strategy is the right one for the firm, regardless of economic conditions,” explains Nemeth Burwell partner, Linda Burwell.
As of today's American League ballot update, Miguel Cabrera is in fourth place for the first base position, about 150,000 votes out of the lead.
Placido Polanco is in fifth place for the second base position and Curtis Granderson is among the top 15 vote-getters for for outfielders. Adam Everett, Brandon Inge, Gerald Laird, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordoñez are also still in the running. However, the Tigers need your help to guarantee a Tigers starter at the 2009 All-Star game!
HURRY!!! Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, July 2, 2009
Click Here to cast your vote for your Tiger!
The Cupcake Station in Birmingham is in their own Stanley Cup(cake) competition with Pittsburgh-based CoCo’s Cupcake Café to see who has the most cupcake loving fans in hockey.
For every Wings or Pens cupcake purchased, a goal is added to the Goals Chalkboard located in each store. At the end of the series, one cupcake bakery will be able to claim the highest scoring, most dedicated, cupcake loving fans in hockey, and will be the rightful winner of The Stanley Cup(cake). Each location will be updating the “opposing” team’s score daily.
From now until the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Cupcake Station will be offering special Red Wing cupcakes. Choose from an Octopus cupcake, a “Go Red Wings” cupcake or one in the team colors of Red and White. Why not score a hat trick and try all three?!
CoCo’s customers can choose between black and gold cupcakes, ones the spell out “Let’s Go Pens,” or those that show their support for a favorite player.
The Cupcake Station is in Birmingham, at 136 N. Old Woodward Ave., just north of Maple. The Cupcake Station was founded in 2006 and serves up fresh-baked cupcakes unlike any you’ll find in other area bakeries. We proudly cheer for our Red Wings. Let’s keep the Cup(cake) in Detroit! For more information, check out www.cupcakestation.com or call 248-593-1903.
JOIN US FOR CRAZY DAYS!
Monday Madness - any size Coffee, only $1 all day.
Two Buck Tuesdays - All Regular Size Cupcakes are $2 and Minis are $1.
Wild Wednesdays - Buy 2 Cupcakes and receive 1 free all day.
Thirsty Thursdays - All Fountain Drinks are 75 cents.
Frosting Fridays - A Shot of Frosting is only 25 cents.
Shop till you drop Saturdays - All Cookies are $1, while they last.
Sunday Sundaes - Buy a Frozen Yogurt and Receive 2 Free Toppings. Walk-In purchases only.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has selected new breast cancer research conducted at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Karmanos' potentially ground-breaking findings identify a promising new therapeutic target for aggressive hormone receptor negative breast cancer tumors.
The research appears at http://www.asco.org/ and http://www.jco.org/ and is entitled "Enhancer of Zeste Homologue 2 (EZH-2) expression in breast cancer: a novel marker and potential target."
Karmanos scientists tested 84 cases of hormone receptor negative human breast carcinomas and discovered that the protein EZH-2 was expressed in 74 percent of those cases. Hormone receptor negative breast carcinoma is considered an aggressive cancer and one that is hard to treat. The finding suggests that EZH-2 could be an important therapeutic target in this patient population.
"We were interested in looking at a new target," said Zeina Nahleh, M.D., co-director of the Breast Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine in hematology and oncology at Wayne State UniversitySchool of Medicine. "We wanted to see how much expression of the protein was present. We were surprised that 74 percent of tumors expressed that EZH-2 protein."
Ann Arbor News
Six Chelsea baseball and softball fields will get a facelift next spring thanks to a $12,000 matching grant from the Detroit Tigers Foundation.
The Chelsea Recreation Council's fundraising project, For the Love of Baseball and Softball, includes plans for new backstops and netting to catch foul balls as well as safety fences, benches for players, removable pitching rubbers, infield compound and clay bricks.
"This is the first major grant for the Rec Council,'' said Jason Lindauer, Chelsea City Council liaison to the group.
Because of budget constraints, the fields have been neglected, said Jeremy Hodges, assistant recreation director, yet participation in baseball and softball programs has soared from 491 players in 2003 to 589 players registered for the upcoming season.
The Rec Council hopes to raise $70,456 before the end of the year for the project and plans phased-in improvements and a maintenance program beginning next spring.
Fittingly, the Rec Council has planned a fundraising trip to a Tigers game as it works to raise the $12,000 match before Dec. 1.
Chelsea Recreation, which is funded by participation fees, provides youth in the Chelsea School District with "quality opportunities to develop lifelong leisure skills,'' Hodges said.
More than 4,400 people have participated in its programs since its inception in 1971.
For more information about the project, go online to www.chelsearec.com.
Jonathan Ericsson will have a pretty good tale to tell his grandkids someday.
Ericsson scored for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, helping them beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 to take a 2-0 lead, and got the best of superstar Evgeni Malkin three times on the same shift.
Not bad for a defenseman who played just four days after having his appendix removed.
"We've got really good team doctors here, so they take care of that so I can get out there," Ericsson said. "It doesn't bother me at all right now."
After Ericsson's goal made it 1-1 early in the second, he sure did bother Malkin on a shift later in the period.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Swede stood up Malkin to thwart his rush with about 12 minutes left in the period, then used his big body to get the MVP finalist off the puck again.
Malkin reacted by interfering with Ericsson, putting Detroit on the power play.
The Red Wings scored just after the penalty was killed, generating enough pressure that Valtteri Filppula's backhander gave them a 2-1 lead.
Ericsson is one of the young players performing for the defending Stanley Cup champions after being forced to develop in the minor leagues.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland likes his prospects "overripe" before they get a chance to play in the NHL.
The 25-year-old Ericsson was buried at Grand Rapids in the AHL until getting called up in March because defenseman Andreas Lilja was sidelined with a concussion.
Ericsson played 19 times in the regular season, scoring once and adding three assists.
In 17 playoff games, he has three goals — including on in his playoff debut in the first round against Columbus — and six points. Ericsson missed only one game after abdominal pain the morning of Game 5 in the Western Conference finals sent him to the hospital.
"He's a real good player," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He's got the long reach. He's got the ability to get his hands out and get you on his back and make that good pass to get you going with speed.
"He's a guy who is going to be, I think, an elite player in the league for a long time."
Plenty of teams had a shot at drafting him because he lasted until the 291st — and final — selection in the 2002 NHL draft.
With the Detroit Red Wings advancing to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, fans are eager to get their hands on tickets.
At Superior Fish Company in Royal Oak, owner Kevin Dean is just as interested in landing the biggest octopus.
The sea creature is the traditional mascot of Red Wings playoff runs, its eight tentacles signifying the number of wins it once took to win a Stanley Cup.
Each time the Wings reach the finals, Dean fills the Superior showcase with the biggest octopus available on order.
Its biggest on record, weighing 52 pounds, with a height of 7 feet, 2 inches and wingspan of more than 12 feet, was aptly named “Octo-zilla,” Dean said. Also dropping by have been “Octo-Al,” named after the octopus swinging Zamboni driver Al Sobotka, and “Oscar the Octopus,” according to Dean.
The name for this year's import?
“We're toying with the idea of calling it ‘Octo-dad,'” Dean said.
Superior Fish, at 309 E. 11 Mile Road in downtown Royal Oak, has gained notoriety over the years as the place to go for octopi.
Dean said the National Hockey League called in advance to find out Superior's plans to hype the Stanley Cup finals. In the past, the octopus/Wings connection has led to televised spots locally, nationally and internationally, he said.
Throwing octopi onto the ice at Wings games is a tradition rarely observed anymore, though one landed in Wednesday's Game 5 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, clinching the NHL's Western Conference championship.
Dean prefers Wings' fans eat their octopi. An Octopus Taste Fest was planned before Game 1 of Saturday's final round at Superior, he said.
Some view Detroit as a symbol of a vast industrial failure. Delta Air Lines sees it as a jewel. "We're most excited about the future of Detroit, its role as the primary Asian gateway from the East Coast," says Glen Hauenstein, executive vice president of Delta, which acquired Northwest and its hub here in October. The deal makes Detroit the second-biggest hub, after Atlanta, for the world's largest airline.
"Not only is the airport beautiful, but to fly from the East Coast, it is the most direct route to Asia." Transportation infrastructure has always been the key to economic growth, says professor John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina. "Detroit Metro Airport is the region's primary infrastructure asset (and) the speedy connectivity it provides to area businesses can help Detroit's economy transform to new sunrise industries."
"Detroit is a very large city, in the top metropolitan areas, and an optimal hub," Hauenstein said, in an interview. "Not only is the airport beautiful, but to fly from the East Coast, it is the most direct route to Asia." Detroit-Wayne County Airport is the country's 12th busiest, with about 36 million passengers annually.
Already, Delta and its partners fly non-stop to Tokyo, Nagoya, Amsterdam, Paris and London, with flights to Shanghai and Rome scheduled to begin June 1. One-stop service to cities throughout Asia is available through Northwest's Tokyo hub. And "We think Detroit to Asia can be larger," Hauenstein says.
Amazingly, the Detroit that Hauenstein sees goes largely unnoticed by many, particularly in a city so busy feeling sorry for itself that it can barely conceive of such vast potential in its midst.
Throughout history, the most important cities have been transportation hubs, says John Kasarda, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. "In the 18th century, the great cities were ports," Kasarda says. "In the 19th, they were railroad cities. In the 20th, they were highway cities. In the 21st century, they will be cities with international airline connections."
Clearly, a continued role as a primary gateway to Asia and Europe can help to assure Detroit's future, he says, noting: "Detroit Metro Airport is the region's primary infrastructure asset (and) the speedy connectivity it provides to area businesses can help Detroit's economy transform to new sunrise industries."
John Carroll, executive director of the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership, says companies from around the world see value in locating in Detroit, still an automotive center with an expanding global airport.
"Quite frankly, the merger is going to strengthen the airport and Detroit's position," Carroll says. Like many major hub cities, Detroit is keen on presenting its best face at the airport, where each year millions of connecting passengers gather impressions of the area.
In the weeks leading up to the expected bankruptcy of this century-old icon, majority sentiment in the U.S., and to a lesser extent here, has been hostile about rewarding a chronically incompetent enterprise with a taxpayer-funded bailout.
Yes. A humbled GM can change.
Post-bankruptcy, a leaner and much healthier GM will continue to put bread on the table for tens of thousands of employees, about 4,000 suppliers, and several thousand dealership employees that often are the business mainstay in small-town North America.
GM remains the U.S.'s biggest manufacturer, still a powerhouse of engineering and technological breakthroughs, most visibly with its all-electric Chevrolet Volt. GM is America's biggest purchaser of information technology.
Entire states in the industrial Midwest and Canadian cities such as Oshawa, Oakville, Windsor and St. Catharines rely on GM and its employees for an outsized portion of their property and income-tax revenue.
All of which is moot, if GM is ultimately destined, as many believe, for the scrapyard in the sky. Somehow, I don't think so.
GM will emerge from bankruptcy with only one-quarter or so of the debt it held earlier this year.
GM's hourly wage costs, after enormous concessions by the Canadian Auto Workers and the United Auto Workers, are now in line with wage rates at "transplants" – the U.S. and Canadian factories operated by foreign-based automakers. The UAW has given up its right to strike until 2015.
GM will have cut its fixed costs to levels enabling it to compete on price with foreign-based rivals.
CEO Fritz Henderson told reporters last week,"We will come out of this rid of some of the historic legacy costs that have been dragging us down for the last 20 years or so," Bob Lutz, GM vice-chairman, said in a Thursday speech. "We will come out of it with an all-new focus on product development."
In an off-the-record briefing of reporters that same day, an Obama administration official said: "GM should be highly, highly profitable given the new cost structure that is being put in place, given the vast reduction of liability that has been achieved."
Fact: "Auto companies rarely die," CEO Henderson reminded reporters last week.
He's not whistling in the dark, having overseen in the past few weeks the drastic makeover of GM that critics have demanded for decades. And he's right – out of national pride, France, Germany, Japan, China, Russia and others routinely subsidize profit-challenged local automakers.
Focused on just four brands rather than eight, Buick and GMC will no longer be deprived of new-product development funds. For the first time, Buick will have close to a full line of models. And GM will have a $1.3-billion annual marketing budget for each of Chevrolet and Cadillac, double the current ad spend, and close to what Toyota commits to its namesake and Lexus brands.
That's crucial, because GM quality and reliability have vastly improved in the past decade (Buick typically tops or is near the top of J.D. Power quality surveys), but GM has lacked the money to tell that story to potential customers that first turned away from GM decades ago. A clean-slate GM has a decent shot at winning customers among Gen Y motorists (ages 22 to 32).
At 70 million people, that group is larger than either Gen X or the baby-boom generation.
Certainly GM has the J.D. Power- and Consumer Reports-acclaimed vehicles for making converts, including the Chevy Malibu, Impala, HHR and the Cadillac STS sedan.
One of the nice things about not being No. 1 is that rivals aren't all gunning for you. With half the market, GM had the most to lose over the past three decades. Now everyone from Kia Motors to Ford Motor Co. will have Toyota in their sights, instead.
And Detroit has a spokesman in Barack Obama, who at a news conference two weeks ago sang the praises of the Ford hybrid parked in his Chicago garage.
"A year or two of Obama emphasizing the restructured GM and Chrysler," U.S. marketing consultant Dennis Keene told Business Week recently, "which he has staked his reputation and taxpayer money on, and you could start to see Gen Y take a lot more interest in these brands and looking at them in a new light."
Alluding to some of the unexpected roles he has taken on as President, Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner a few weeks ago that Car & Driver had named him its "CEO of the Year."
We can only hope.
Our Detroit musical heritage is legendary. Let's face it ... you don't become known as"Motown" for tying your shoes. A song like "Detroit Rock City" wasn't written because Detroit is a lousy venue for a concert. And nobody is going to write a song titled "Detroit City (I Wanna Go Home)" if the place sucks.
People all over the "metro-Detroit area" consider themselves Detroiters. Think about it ... if you're out of town, you describe your general location in terms of Detroit. You are either from Detroit, just north of Detroit, south of Detroit, but it's always Detroit ... the professional sports teams we root for are all about Detroit. The Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions ...
It's Sunday. Relax, enjoy some original Detroit music and remember, we all have a lot more in common than we have in differences.