Over the weekend Miguel Cabrera became the richest athlete in the history of American sports, ironically in a city that is so broke that 40% of its streetlights are not functioning. In 2013 Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, with long-term debt estimated between $18 billion and $20 billion, and yet the team could afford to give it’s star player a contract worth $292 million guaranteed. Sure, theoretically, if Miggy helps the Tigers go deep into the playoffs it could help jumpstart the economy but let’s just take a look at the current state of Detroit and consider what could be improved upon with nearly $300 million.
1. Detroit’s revenue, in inflation-adjusted dollars, fell 40% from 1962 to 2012.
2. The city currently has just 9,700 workers, yet has 21,000 retirees drawing benefits.
3. Detroit’s population has declined 63% since 1950, including a 26% decline since 2000. As of December 2012, its population was 684,799 – down from 1,849,600 in 1950.
4. Unemployment has tripled since 2000. As of June 2012, it’s 18.3%, which is more than double the national average.
5. The number of employed residents has dropped more than 53% since 1970.
6. Property tax revenues have decreased by approximately 19.7% over the past five years.
7. The per capita tax burden on Detroiters is the highest in Michigan, despite relatively low levels of income for city residents.
8. The total assessed value of property in Detroit declined by 77% over the past 50 years in inflation-adjusted dollars.
9. Without restructuring, the city is projected to have negative cash flows of $198.5 million in FY 2014.
10. Detroit’s long-term debt is estimated to be between $18 billion and $20 billion.
11. The city has unfunded pension liabilities of $3.5 billion.
12. Its unfunded health care liabilities are $5.7 billion.
13. In 2012, Detroit had the highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city with a population over 200,000. The overall crime rate is five times the national average.
14. Detroit has just 370 functioning street lights per square mile, compared with 812 for Cleveland and 785 for St. Louis.
15. Detroit has witnessed 11,000-12,000 fires every year for the past decade.
16. Detroit’s homicide rate is at the highest level in 40 years, and it has been named one of the most dangerous cities in America for more than 20 years.
17. Its citizens wait on average more than 58 minutes for the police to respond to their calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes.
18. The city has 78,000 abandoned structures.
19. More than half of its parks have closed since 2008.