Michael Ilitch

Owner / Director

A proven leader in the sports, food and entertainment industries, Michael Ilitch enters his 24th full season as Owner/Director of the Detroit Tigers.

  • Under his stewardship, the Tigers have made two World Series appearances; captured two American League Championships; and won four consecutive American League Central Division titles from 2011-14, the only time in franchise history this feat has been accomplished.
  • He was a driving force behind the creation of the Tigers spectacular home, Comerica Park, in 2000 and contributed more than 60 percent of the financing for the over $300 million facility.
  • Served a key role in designing the ballpark, bringing years of entertainment experience that resulted in many of the features that make Comerica Park a unique destination.
  • Conceptualized and funded the redesign of Comerica Park's suites and the new high definition video board, the largest of its type in the state of Michigan, following the 2011 season.
  • Ilitch's acquisition of the Tigers on August 26, 1992 was the culmination of a long association with the club that began when he signed a minor league player's contract with the organization in his early 20s...his playing career was cut short due to an injury in his fourth season with the club.
  • Founded Little Caesars Pizza in 1959 with his wife, Marian…Little Caesars, now the world's largest carryout-only pizza chain, celebrates 57 years in business in 2016.
  • The Ilitches purchased the Detroit Red Wings in 1982 and have built the franchise into an elite NHL powerhouse with four Stanley Cup titles under their ownership.
  • Along with the Red Wings, purchased Olympia Arenas, Inc. (renamed Olympia Entertainment in 1996), which manages restaurants, sports and entertainment venues in Detroit.
  • At a time when many businesses were leaving Detroit, the Ilitches purchased the neglected Fox Theatre, an iconic landmark on the famous Woodward Avenue...with great effort, the building was restored to its original 1928 splendor and was reopened in 1988…the 5,000 seat theatre continues to attract audiences with a wide range of quality entertainment and a freshly renovated marquee with new digital elements.
  • Renovated the office space attached to the Fox Theatre in 1989 and made it the Little Caesars world headquarters. The headquarters will soon be expanded into an entire campus with the addition of a new Little Caesars Global Resource Center next door to the Fox Theatre.
  • Created Olympia Development in 1996 to focus on development projects in downtown Detroit, such as Hockeytown Café and the City Theatre. Today, Olympia Development is executing Ilitch's vision for a vibrant sports and entertainment district in Detroit - the most ambitious development project in the organization's history. The District Detroit will transform 50 blocks of underutilized land, connect Midtown to Downtown Detroit and deliver an expected $1.8 billion economic impact to the city, region and state.
  • Gifted $40 million plus use of land in October 2015 toward the building of a new Wayne State University School of Business, which will be named the Mike Ilitch School of Business.
  • Inducted into the International Franchise Association (IFA) Hall of Fame in 2016 for exemplifying the best in franchising and for significant contributions to the franchise community.
  • Honored with SportsBusiness Journal's “The Champions: Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business” Award in 2014, which is given to architects and builders of the sports industry who have an outstanding body of work throughout their career.
  • Ranked the number one franchise owner in all of professional sports in ESPN the Magazine's “Ultimate Standings 2011” for honesty, commitment to community, and loyalty to core players.
  • Voted the most effective team owner in the NHL by a SportsBusiness Journal survey in 2010.
  • Rated the number one owner in professional sports by Turnkey Sports and Entertainment in 2008.
  • Given the Secretary's Award in 2007, the highest honor given to a civilian by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, for the Little Caesars Veterans Program, which provides honorably discharged veterans with a business opportunity when they transition from service or seek a career change.
  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
  • Received Presidential Citations from three United States Presidents -- Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan for the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a mobile kitchen that feeds hot pizza meals to people in need, disaster victims and first responders and has fed more than 3 million people since its inception in 1985.
  • In his hometown of Detroit, Ilitch has been honored for his efforts in the community, including the Joe Louis Brown Bomber Jacket Award, the Distinguished Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, the Shining Light Regional Cooperation Award and the Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award.