President and CEO, Ilitch Holdings, Inc.
As president and chief executive officer of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Christopher Ilitch leads the Ilitch companies, spanning some of the world's best-known brands in food, sports and entertainment, and real estate development. Together, these businesses employ thousands of people, positively transform communities through entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and create unforgettable moments that bring individuals, families, and fans together.
Over his 34-year career, Christopher has remained steadfast in his vision that all Ilitch companies have a powerful capacity to improve lives. “We're proud to create opportunities for people across the globe through meaningful careers, small business ownership, community-minded development, and products and services that bring people joy.”
True to Mike and Marian Ilitch's entrepreneurial spirit that serves as the foundation of the organization, Christopher leads with a focus on planning, innovation, and the pursuit of new opportunities. This approach has resulted in the companies' revenue nearly quadrupling since he became CEO in 2004, outperforming the S&P 500 over the same time.
In addition to serving as president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Christopher holds positions at each of the Ilitch companies, including as chairman and CEO of the Detroit Tigers, as governor, president and CEO of the Detroit Red Wings, and as a member of MotorCity Casino Hotel's management committee. Highlights and accomplishments at the Ilitch companies since Christopher became CEO of Ilitch Holdings in 2004 include:
Ilitch Holdings, Inc.
For more than two decades, Ilitch Holdings has provided guidance, professional shared services, and strategic vision to the Ilitch companies.
Under CEO Dave Scrivano's leadership, Little Caesars has grown into the third largest pizza company in the world, with stores in each of the 50 U.S. states and 27 countries and territories. Little Caesars launched its highly innovative and convenient Hot 'N Ready concept in 2004. Beginning in 2007, the company has been named Best Value in America 14 years consecutively. In 2018, the company introduced its highly innovative and patented Pizza Portal, followed by unveiling its top-rated digital ordering app in 2019. The organization introduced home delivery in 2020, the same year that the company's state-of-the-art world headquarters was completed as the first new major headquarters built in Detroit in over a decade.
Little Caesars Fundraising
Started by Christopher Ilitch in 1997 in Detroit, Little Caesars Fundraising has grown across the continental U.S. and Canada, helping thousands of schools, churches, sports teams and other nonprofits raise millions of dollars for worthy causes, through the sale of pizza kits and related products. Most recently, the company launched an innovative and convenient digital fundraising platform and hassle-free shipping and is now the largest QSR branded pizza fundraiser in North America.
Blue Line Foodservice Distribution
Blue Line Foodservice Distribution provides Little Caesars with customized and strategic global supply chain solutions in an innovative, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Through customized and strategic global supply chain solutions, Blue Line makes it possible for Little Caesars stores around the globe to serve customers a delicious, fresh product with industry-leading convenience and value. Through the continued implementation of state-of-the-art technology across its distribution center network, transportation fleet, and enterprise systems, Blue Line has grown to become one of the largest food and equipment systems distributors in the world.
The fast-growing Champion Foods, a maker of premier-branded and private label products, opened its state-of-the-art baking facility in 2006 and launched the highly unique and top selling Motor City Pizza Company branded line of products in 2017. The company's products are now available in over 25,000 supermarkets across the U.S., including with major national brands such as Costco and Walmart.
Detroit Red Wings
Formed in 1926, and a member of the Original Six, the Detroit Red Wings are the National Hockey League's most storied American-based franchise. Steeped in a tradition of winning, and with some of the greatest players, coaches, and executives in league history, the Red Wings have captured 11 Stanley Cup titles. Mike and Marian Ilitch purchased the Red Wings in 1982, and under Ilitch ownership, the team has won 16 divisional championships, six President's Trophies, six Campbell Bowls, qualified for the playoffs in 25-consecutive seasons from 1991-2016 and won four Stanley Cups. Following the 2018-19 season, governor, president and CEO Christopher Ilitch welcomed Steve Yzerman back to the Red Wings as executive vice president and general manager, tabbing Detroit's former captain as the 11th general manager in franchise history. Yzerman and his team are actively restocking the team with young talent and select free agents to bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit.
Formed in 1901, and a charter member of the America League, the Detroit Tigers are one of the most celebrated franchises in Major League Baseball, having won four World Series and 11 American League Championships. Since being purchased by the Ilitch family in 1992, the team has made two World Series appearances, established record-setting attendance, and played host to the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Under the leadership of Christopher Ilitch, chairman and CEO, the Tigers have developed a young core of talent through the Major League Baseball Draft, intentional free agency, and player trades, while implementing a long-term strategy focused on sustainable success. The organization has an ongoing commitment to cutting-edge analytics and advanced technologies, making significant investments in stats analysis, data resources and recruitment, as well as tools and training to maximize the performance of the players. Major investments and improvements have been made in facilities upgrades in Lakeland, including extensive remodel of Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, surrounding practice fields, player facilities and team offices.
Ilitch Sports + Entertainment
Ilitch Sports + Entertainment (IS+E) is reimagining the power and potential of providing world-class sports and entertainment experiences to fans, guests, and corporate partners. Ilitch Sports + Entertainment was formed as the umbrella organization for business operations of the storied Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and The District Detroit. IS+E operates the award-winning Little Caesars Arena - which has welcomed nearly 8 million guests and approximately 600 events since opening in late 2017, Comerica Park - home to the Detroit Tigers, and the iconic Fox Theatre, all within a four-block radius in The District Detroit. It also maintains a joint venture interest in 313 Presents and provides facility management services for DTE Energy Music Theatre, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, and the Meadowbrook Amphitheatre. In 2017, 313 Presents - a joint venture between Olympia Entertainment and Pistons Sports & Entertainment - was launched to form Detroit's premier live entertainment company. The merger was preceded by the Detroit Pistons receiving unanimous approval from the NBA Board of Governors to return to the city of Detroit for the first time in nearly 40 years as a tenant of the state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena. More than 500 ticketed events per year are hosted at venues operated by Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. In the 2019 Pollstar rankings, Little Caesars Arena ranked #2 in the U.S. in concert ticket sales, behind only Madison Square Garden. Those same Pollstar rankings saw the Fox Theatre rated #6 in the country, and #7 in the world, with nearly 500,000 guests.
MotorCity Casino Hotel
Detroit's only locally owned and operated casino, MotorCity Casino Hotel is a premier destination for world-class entertainment. Marian Ilitch became the sole owner of MotorCity Casino in 2005 and soon embarked on a $300 million expansion and renovation project, completed in 2008. In coordination with the casino's management committee (of which Christopher Ilitch is a member), president Bruce Dall has grown the MotorCity Casino Hotel entertainment complex, which is now comprised of an expansive gaming space, including a smoke-free gaming area, the FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino, an award-winning 400-room ultra-comfortable high-tech hotel and other amenities. MotorCity Casino Hotel remains committed to providing opportunities to the local community, with Detroit residents making up more than half of the workforce, and over $1.5 billion in goods and services awarded to Detroit small and minority-owned businesses since the property opened.
Ocean Casino Resort
Spanning over 20 beachfront acres on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, Ocean Casino Resort features 1,399 guest rooms and suites; 135,000 square feet of gaming entertainment; 1,720 slot machines; 108 gaming tables; 160,000 square feet of meeting and convention space; 90,000 square feet of unique outdoor space; 5 upscale dining restaurants; 10 casual dining options; a 40,000 square foot spa; 6 signature day and nightlife experiences; and a 4,500-seat concert venue. Ocean is home to the world’s largest Topgolf Swing Suite and offers both land-based sports wagering and online gaming within the state of New Jersey through its real-money gaming sites. The Ilitch organization, through an affiliate, is the manager of and acquired a 50% ownership interest in Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2021. The other 50% is controlled by Luxor Capital Group, LP.
Christopher continues to build on the legacy of his parents and company founders, Marian and Mike Ilitch, through significant and ongoing real estate development efforts like The District Detroit, a premier urban live, work, play destination featuring professional sports, entertainment, residential, retail, educational, and office space in the heart of the city. Olympia Development, under the direction of its President Keith Bradford, is steadily building out The District Detroit and redeveloping a critical part of the city, uniting world-class theaters, four professional sports teams and three multi-use sports facilities, including Comerica Park and the state-of-the-art, award-winning Little Caesars Arena- home of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Pistons and world-class entertainment and community events. The District Detroit also includes retail, residential, educational, and commercial office developments that create economic opportunity and unforgettable experiences for the community, such as the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, the Detroit Center for Innovation, and the Little Caesars World Headquarters. Olympia Development's restoration of Detroit's historic icons, such as the Eddystone residences, is bringing much needed market-rate and affordable housing to the core of the city. To date, over 20,000 men and women have been hired for skilled trades and construction, construction-related and permanent jobs for these developments, and Olympia Development has contributed approximately $6 million toward workforce development funds for Detroiters. Detroit-based companies received 60 percent of Little Caesars Arena contract awards worth more than $530 million. As a result of the new construction in The District Detroit, the area tax base has increased by 505 percent.
Detroit's premier live entertainment company, 313 Presents promotes and produces more than 300 concerts, theatrical productions, sporting events and family shows a year at six world-class venues across southeastern Michigan, including Little Caesars Arena, the historic Fox Theatre featuring Proud Partner Comerica Bank, Comerica Park and DTE Energy Music Theatre. Consistently ranked in the top 10 in Pollstar year-end attendance charts, including DTE Energy Music Theatre as #1 Amphitheatre in the World in 2019, 313 Presents is the touring destination and market-leader in the industry, hosting marquee artists and productions including Bob Seger, Elton John, Drake, Pink, Jay-Z, and Harry Styles. 313 Presents is a joint venture between the Ilitch organization and Pistons Sports & Entertainment.
Tenda is a specialty insurance company offering property and casualty, general liability, health, and other types of insurance. Formed in 2020, Tenda provides innovative solutions and delivers exceptional value through the design of bespoke insurance products.
Little Caesars Arena
Built and designed under the leadership of Christopher Ilitch, Little Caesars Arena opened in September of 2017. The innovative and award-winning multi-use venue - the 2018 Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year - serves as home to the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and countless other sports, entertainment and community events. Little Caesars Arena features fan-centric experiences throughout the facility, including signature public and premium spaces, unique heritage elements, one of the largest center-hung videoboards in the world, 3-D image mapping, a versatile sky deck, over 1,300 display screens, and more. Little Caesars Arena was also named the 2021 KultureCity Sensory Inclusive Venue of the Year, as all events hosted at the arena are sensory inclusive and promote an accommodating and positive experience for guests and fans with sensory needs. The state-of-the-art BELFOR Training Center, located on the event level of Little Caesars Arena, is the official practice facility of the Red Wings and is also home to Little Caesars Amateur Hockey.
A Passion for Giving Back
Christopher is actively engaged in the community as Chairman of Ilitch Charities, the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation. The Ilitch companies, its employees and foundations have donated over $235 million to worthy causes, served over 5 million meals to those in need, and donated thousands of volunteer hours in support of community programs.
"Across our family-owned companies in Detroit and around the world, we work hard to lift others up and give back to the communities in which we operate," he says. "Every day, we strive to bring this mission to life in ways that make a lasting positive impact on others."
Beyond his work at the Ilitch companies and Ilitch Charities, Christopher serves on the Board of Governors for the National Hockey League as well as the Strategic Planning and Innovation and Media and Content committees for the NHL, and the Executive, Economic Reform, On Field, and Legislative Affairs committees of Major League Baseball. He also serves on the board and executive committees for Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Economic Club, and the Downtown Detroit Partnership. He is also an advisory board member of the Harvard Kennedy School Taubman Center for State and Local Government. He has served on host/hospitality committees for the NCAA Men's Frozen Four Hockey Championship (co-chair), the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Tournament, Super Bowl XL, and the Major League Baseball All-Star game (chair).
A graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan, Christopher is a proud father of three and resides with his wife Kelle and their children in metro Detroit.