A University of Michigan professor who is consulting on a potential $650 million sports and entertainment complex in Detroit dismissed Tuesday earlier reports that said he predicted construction of the downtown project could begin this fall.

Mark Rosentraub said he didn't intend to give a firm timeline for the project that includes a new home for the Red Wings.

"I was responding to a hypothetical and I said first A, B, C and D need to happen. The rest of the scenario was left out. It went straight to the conclusion without giving the context," Rosentraub said. He said he doesn't know and isn't willing to predict when construction could start.

The co-director of the university's Michigan Center for Sport Management helped Wings owner Mike Ilitch prepare to win legislative approval for a key piece of funding for the project. The state law allows the Downtown Development Authority to OK $12.8 million a year for the project.

Rosentraub is more certain a new arena will have fewer seats than The Joe's 20,000.

"It will have around 17,000 seats," he said, adding the smaller number will improve viewing and the economics of the facility.

DDA officials would need to approve the tax funding for the Ilitch project, and there is no deadline when they may decide. The DDA's $12.8 million revenue stream comes from school taxes that were previously used for another purpose. The money would help fund and retire bonds for the sports project. One of the city's main negotiators in the project said last month he couldn't predict when plans will be public.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130206/BIZ/302060337#ixzz2K85xX7Kj