Kelle Ilitch Telling Friends That Tigers and Wings Will Be Sold

The DetroitSportsRag has received some interesting gossip over the last 72 hours regarding the future ownership of the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers. We are passing along that information in this post.

Sources have informed the DSR that Kelle Ilitch — the wife of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. CEO Chris Ilitch — has been gossiping to her friends that both the Tigers AND the Wings will be going up on the market due to the family’s intense concerns over tax issues.

While it’s not shocking that Chris Ilitch would look to sell his father’s baby — no matter how many naive columns Jeff Seidel writes in the Free Press about Chris playing catch with his kid —  the news that the Red Wings could also be sold is surprising. Speculation has been rampant in the Detroit business community that the Tigers would not remain in the Ilitch family and with a potential valuation of $1.5 billion, it would be hard to blame Chris for selling to the highest bidder.

(Another source indicated that “highest bidder” most likely will not be Pistons owner Tom Gores. The Platinum Equity President has made his bones acquiring distressed properties and not entitles with a soaring value. The Pistons are a great example of his business acumen as he purchased the NBA franchise, the team’s practice facility, Pine Knob, Meadowbrook and the yarmulke Bill Davidson wore at his Bar Mitzvah for $325 million from Karen Davidson. The Pistons alone are conservatively worth 2.5 times that price today.)

The strange part of Kelle Ilitch telling friends that tax issues are the reason the teams will be sold is the following:

  • A former employee of Ilitch Holdings told the DSR that the family has worked for years on financial planning in an effort to avoid estate tax issues. Mike Ilitch’s death was no surprise as he spent the last couple years of his life in and out of Beaumont due to a cancer diagnosis. In fact, two employees of the Royal Oak hospital informed me that they were shocked Mr. I lived as long as he did.
  • According to another former employee, Ilitch Holdings’ financial debt is tied to team revenue, creating another obstacle in selling the franchises.

That former employee also told me that the annual Ilitch family meeting is held at around this time of year and the sale of one or both of the teams would be broached in that setting.

All we can say for certain is Chris Ilitch’s wife has been openly discussing the sale of the Tigers and Red Wings with friends.

We will update you further if we hear anything. In the meantime, I have to figure out which spin class Kelle attends.

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