The owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings has died. Mike Illitch was 87.

The Detroit Free Press was among many news outlets reporting the news, and recounting the huge contribution that the Ilitch family has made to the city of Detroit.


From his first Little Caesars outlet in Garden City strip mall in 1959 — where a pizza cost $2.39 — Ilitch, aided at every step by Marian, his wife of 61 years,  became a major metro Detroit personality and a key figure in the revival of downtown Detroit. In addition to founding the Little Caesars pizza chain, he owned the Red Wings, Tigers and the Fox Theatre, and operated city-owned Joe Louis, Cobo, and Little Caesars arenas, among other smaller businesses, teams and restaurants.

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Illitch has owned the Detroit Red Wings since 1982, according to Wikipedia.

In 1982, Ilitch bought the Detroit Red Wings from Bruce Norris for $8 million USD, and has turned the team into a perennial contender for the Stanley Cup. After years of drafting top picks and grooming their young players, and with proper management and leadership, the Red Wings have become an elite NHL team. They made the Stanley Cup finals three times between the 1994–95 and 1997–98 seasons, winning the Cup in 1997 (fifteen years after Ilitch purchased the Red Wings) and again in 1998. The Red Wings added two more championships in 2002 and 2008.

He bought the Tigers in 1992.