Foster: Gores dreams of moving Pistons downtown

Despite over $40 million in recent renovations at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Pistons owner Tom Gores’ ultimate dream may reside about 30 miles south. 

In an early morning column for The Detroit News, Terry Foster suggested Gores plans to explore various opportunities and possibilities that could land the Pistons back within the downtown district. His newly launched project, dubbed “Big Math”, will utilize the strengths of the recently hired Arn Tellem to incite economic growth statewide and within the city of Detroit in particular. 

One of Tellem’s first agenda items when he takes over Aug. 3 is to explore bringing the Pistons downtown from Auburn Hills. That likely would mean a meeting with Chris Ilitch and Mike Ilitch from Olympia Entertainment, which has launched a $650 million arena and business project.

“We will put Arn in charge of helping us analyze how we can talk to the other business leaders,” Gores said. “We are going to charter Arn to study that (moving downtown). It will be one of his first things.”

The Pistons have two viable options. They can move into the new Red Wings arena, which is scheduled to open in 2017, and share it with Olympia Entertainment. There is also a Hail Mary option to tear down the half-built Wayne County Jail and build an arena in conjunction with Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert.

Gilbert is applying the pressure to Gores in regards to a downtown move.

“It’s hard to compete not being in an urban corridor,” Gilbert told The Detroit News. “You have to sell more than just the game. You have to sell the entire experience, and you can’t get that in a field (in Auburn Hills). You gotta get that in an urban corridor, where there are restaurants or casinos or other entertainment venues.”

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Outside of a handful of extenuating circumstances that briefly pushed the team back inside the city (the Silverdome collapse in 1985, for one), the Pistons haven’t truly called Detroit home since 1978, their last season at Cobo Arena. Former owner William Davidson moved the Pistons to the Silverdome for the 1979 season before ultimately constructing the Palace of Auburn Hills, which opened 10 years later.

In the event of a move downtown, Gores would maintain a vested interest in the Palace, standing as the current owner of Palace Sports & Entertainment. Even sans Pistons, the Palace could stand on its own as a special-events and concert venue. 

A hypothetical Pistons team-up with the Red Wings in Detroit would create just one more of many arena partnerships between the NBA and NHL. Current multi-use arenas exist most notably in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington. It works, and apparently for Detroit, it may soon become a very real possibility. 

Read Terry Foster’s entire article here

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