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Chris Ilitch says progress is being made on new arena, future home of the Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) covers the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Monday, April 22, 2013. Detroit won 4-0. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) covers the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Monday, April 22, 2013. Detroit won 4-0. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings will get a new arena.

It's not if, but when and yet Chris Ilitch doesn't know or want to say much about it.

"Everybody is working hard and there's positive progress," the president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings told The Associated Press after Wednesday's Detroit Economic Club meeting.

What's next in the process?

"It's tough to say," he said. "I'd prefer not to make any predictions and just keep working away and continue to do our due diligence and see what we can put together."

Joe Louis Arena, which is among the oldest NHL facilities, opened in 1979.

Chris Ilitch leads a company owned by his parents—Mike and Marian—that includes the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and had $4.2 billion in revenue in 2010.

Four months ago, Michigan lawmakers approved a measure allowing tax dollars collected by the Downtown Development Authority to be used for a $650 million multi-use development that will include a facility for the Red Wings. The DDA has been allowed for nearly two decades to pay down Detroit's general obligation bonds with about $12.8 million a year that otherwise would have gone to education

Supporters of the bill claimed it will create upward of 8,300 new construction jobs and pump $1 billion into Michigan's economy. Opponents of it said funding a private stadium with taxpayer dollars shouldn't be a priority, especially when that money was otherwise going to the School Aid Fund.

But for Detroit which is under state financial oversight, such a complex is seen as a godsend.

"I think this is a great opportunity, as we continue the process of transforming Detroit," Mayor Dave Bing said Wednesday in an emailed statement. "This sports complex will not only create thousands of jobs, hopefully for Detroiters, but will also be a major economic benefit to our city."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

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