This holding company rules over a Caesar, tames Tigers, and takes flight on the ice. Ilitch Holdings controls the business interests of Mike and Marian Ilitch and their family, which includes the Little Caesars pizza chain, the Detroit Tigers baseball team, and the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Subsidiary Olympia Entertainment owns Detroit's Fox Theatre and operates Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena, and Cobo Arena. Additional holdings include Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, a leading supplier of food and equipment to restaurant operators (including Little Caesars operators), and an interest in the MotorCity Casino Hotel. The Ilitches started Little Caesars in 1959 and formed Ilitch Holdings in 1999.
Mike and Marian Ilitch parlayed their successful pizza franchise into an empire through a series of acquisitions. They purchased the Red Wings in 1982, the same year they acquired Olympia Entertainment. Ten years later they added the Tigers baseball team to their holdings. Ilitch Holdings centralizes the administration, communication, legal, and information technology needs for its various businesses under one corporate umbrella in an effort to increase efficiency and lower costs.
While their entertainment and leisure holdings are vast, keeping the family business growing in the Detroit area through a difficult economy has been a challenge. The Ilitches had been investing in downtown real estate hoping to build a new hockey arena, but those plans have been stuck on hold for several years. Ilitch Holdings still hopes to eventually build a new arena for downtown Detroit to replace the Red Wings' aging Joe Lewis Arena and the Detroit Pistons' Palace of Auburn Hills in the suburbs.