Pge 6 - The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989
Controversial Pizza king
continues stormy rule in A2 i4
By Miguel Cruz
Gaily News Editor
He's very rich.
In a little over 30 years, Ann
Arbor's Tom Monaghan has trans-
firmed a bankrupt Ypsilanti pizza
:store into a multibillion dollar em-
-.ie. Since he and his brother pur-
plPased Dominick's pizza parlor for
7$900 in the late 60's, the Domino's
fizza chain has expanded to over
,5,000 stores in 15 countries, with
sales of over $2.3 billion last year.
But Monaghan is neither a typi-
cal entrepreneur nor a typical tycoon.
His understated flamboyance, if there
is such a thing, makes him a fa-
vorite subject for both national me-
dia and local wags. At the same
time, conservative political views
have pitted activist groups against
K him and his company.
Tigers, Frank Lloyd Wright,
and Big Things
Most Ann Arbor residents can
throw around a few biographical tid-
bits about the town's most success-
ful businessperson and biggest
spender. He owns the Detroit Tigers,
worships early 20th century architect
Frank Lloyd Wright, collects cars,
and builds big things.
Monaghan's first major foray into
the national limelight was in
October 1983 when he purchased the
Detroit Tigers. Since then, the
Tigers have enjoyed some of their
most successful seasons ever.
Also since then, Monaghan
began to feel that his team was
outgrowing aging Tiger Stadium.
Announcements of plans to replace
the Detroit landmark were met with
widespread rebuff, including "Save
Tiger Stadium" campaigns by area
radio stations which have managed
to stall action.
Speaking to the press after the
,$53 million purchase, he pro-
claimed, "For the next five years, I
want to win a pennant, expand the
company at a 50% rate, add our
5,000th store, and just be an exam-
ple to others that you can be both
honest and successful."
The first season that Monaghan
signed the Tigers' paychecks, they
set a record for the best 40-game
start in baseball history, and went on
to win the World Series. The Tigers'
success under their new ownership
may result from a realization by
Monaghan that he's sometimes bet-
ter at owning things than managing
them; one of his first moves was a
promise to leave the team entirely in
the hands of manager Sparky
Another of Monaghan's famous
diversions is the work of architect
Frank Lloyd Wright. Monaghan has
said that since he first saw a photo-
graph of a Wright building, he has
been obsessed with the late archi-
tect's work. Earlier, this had pushed
him towards becoming an architect
himself. Never making it to sopho-
more year in college, however,
proved an insurmountable complica-
More recently, as his wealth
grew, this obsession has manifested
as a need to purchase everything by,
from, or about Frank Lloyd Wright.
His Wright collection includes three
houses and hundreds of pieces of fur-
niture and art.
But it's Monaghan's big things
that have caused the most concern
for many of Ann Arbor's citizens.
Right now, the biggest of these is
the Domino's headquarters building
at Domino Farms. Designed by local
architect Gunnar Birkerts, the four-
story structure will be six-tenths of a
mile long when completed (about
twice as long as the Sears Tower is
tall). The building, named the
"Prairie House" after one of Frank
Lloyd Wright's designs, is currently
about 80% completed and has been
in use for over a year.
Since it opened, the traffic to the
area on Ann Arbor's northwest side
Every king must have his castle. Thomas Monaghan's just happens to be larger than most.
has worn out roads and kept irate
neighbors awake. His personal
helicopter was similarly unpopular
with nearby residents.
Even bigger than his current
biggest thing, Monaghan planned to
complement the Domino's headquar-
ters building with a 30-plus story of-
fice tower, slanted at a 15* angle.
Newspaper pundits immediately
christened the proposed structure the
"Leaning Tower of Pizza". Since
then, widespread derogation has sent
the tower's plans back to the drawing
Monaghan and Michigan
Though many Ann Arbor resi-
dents do not share or enjoy Tom
Monaghan's fascination with archi-
tecture, it has proven propitious for
the University's architecture school.
A few years ago, he compiled a list
of who he considers the world's 30
greatest living architects. Since then,
he has regularly funded campus vis-
its for many of them. Also,
Monaghan sponsors full term visit-
ing professorships at the school for
some of the most eminent people in
the field. In the words of college
Executive Secretary Mary Anne
Drew, "he has been very good to
And the University has been good
to him. It's no secret that the cam-
pus is a gold mine for Domino's
Pizza. The guaranteed 30-minute de-
livery is especially popular with
dormbound students, and special
deals with orientation leaders almost
ensure preemptive exposure to in-
While many are aware of
Monaghan's flamboyant purchases
and enterprises, fewer are familiar
with some more serious objections
raised by local and national groups.
Monaghan's political affiliation with
right-wing groups and financial sup-
port for their activities have long
angered Ann Arbor activists.
Monaghan is the founder and
leader of Legatus, an exclusive order
of wealthy Catholic businessmen.
Legatus has reportedly been funding
far-right-wing insurgencies world-
wide, notably including the contras
He has also contributed thousands
of dollars to Ann Arbor's chapter of
Right to Life, a group famous for its
attempts to forcibly close abortion
clinics and pregnancy counseling E
A year ago, Monaghan denied the
National Organization for Women
permission to use "public" facilities
at Domino's Farms for a rally. A
lawsuit is currently pending, and in
January 1989, NOW launched a
nationwide boycott of Domino's
A further indignity, the office*
dress code at Domino's headquarters
requires that all women employees
wear skirts. Monaghan has checked
several attempts at unionization by
Domino's workers, and requires all
employees to take drug tests.
In response to these and other
concerns, a coalition of local groups
has been organizing a boycott effort.
The boycott will be sponsored by
the Latin American Solidarity*
Committee, Ann Arbor's Committee
to Defend Abortion Rights, Ann
Arbor Tenants' Union, and the
Homeless Action Committee, said
LASC member Phillis Englebert.
Blueprint for success:
p ILLdirus w a uaJIm y
a pizza diagram hangs on a wall at the Domino's
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