Wife of Tigers, Wings owner to run MotorCity Casino

Updated: April 13, 2005, 6:00 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- State gaming officials on Wednesday approved Marian Ilitch's bid to buy out her partners in MotorCity Casino and become the sole owner of the venture, which takes in more than $400 million in revenue annually.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board approved the bid on a 4-0 vote.

MotorCity, which is owned by Mandalay Resort Group, was sold because of the pending merger between MGM Mirage Inc. and Mandalay. MGM already owns Detroit's MGM Grand Casino, and Michigan law prohibits the company from owning more than one casino in the city. Detroit has three casinos.

Ilitch is the wife of Mike Ilitch, the slightly more visible half of the business team that started in 1959 with the opening of a pizza parlor in suburban Detroit. That first Little Caesars restaurant flourished into one of the biggest national pizza chains. The Ilitches' companies, which include hockey's Detroit Red Wings and baseball's Detroit Tigers, had combined revenue in excess of $1 billion last year.

Marian Ilitch, vice chairwoman of Ilitch Holdings Inc., who owned 25 percent of MotorCity, is paying $525 million for the 53.5 percent stake in the casino. She also is buying an 11.5 percent stake held by Atwater Entertainment, a group of more than 100 local investors, as well as the remaining 10 percent from another local investor, Tom Celani.

The sale is contingent on the completion of the MGM-Mandalay merger, expected by June 30.

Shares of Mandalay closed unchanged at $70.62 in trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, near the high end of a 52-week range of $50.44 to $72.80. Shares of MGM Mirage rose $1.07 to close at $75.05 on the NYSE, near the high end of a 52-week range of $39.61 to $79.60.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press