Pistons announce downtown move beginning next season
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons have reached an agreement in principle with the city of Detroit and Olympia Entertainment for the team to move from the suburbs to downtown, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because there had been no formal announcement. Pistons owner Tom Gores is set to appear at a news conference Tuesday with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings.
Gores acknowledged last month that the team was close to a deal to leave The Palace of Auburn Hills and start playing downtown next season. The Pistons have been in talks about playing at the new arena that is being built for the Detroit Red Wings, who are owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch. The arena site is about 30 miles from Auburn Hills.
Olympia Entertainment, a division of Ilitch Holdings, handles business operations for the Red Wings, who are in their final season at Joe Louis Arena before moving to Little Caesars Arena.
The new arena is in the same part of downtown where the Tigers and Lions host their games, and not far from where Gores and Dan Gilbert have been hoping to put a new stadium for a Major League Soccer team.
The Pistons have played in Auburn Hills since 1988 and played at the Pontiac Silverdome for a decade prior to that. The team was downtown when it called Cobo Arena home from 1961-78.
The Palace was built with private funds by William Davidson, who owned the Pistons before his death in 2009. The team won championships in its first two seasons in Auburn Hills and again in 2004. Although the atmosphere slipped in recent years as the team went through a rough stretch on the court, Detroit returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009, and the Pistons appear headed in the right direction in Stan Van Gundy’s third season as their coach and team president.
Gores bought the Pistons from Karen Davidson in 2011. He said last month that if the team did leave the Palace, it was important to remember the success the franchise had in that area.
"I think we have to be really mindful of this community in Auburn Hills and their loyalty in showing up," he said. "This has been a real community, and I want them to feel the same wherever we’re playing."