The Detroit Pistons met with the Detroit Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday to discuss plans to move back to the city’s confines.
The Detroit Pistons‘ organization has been hard at work for the last few months trying to orchestrate a move back to downtown Detroit, and it looks as though those efforts have paid off.
Pistons’ owner Tom Gores, Chris Illitch of Olympia Entertainment, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and NBA commissioner Adam Silver met in Midtown Detroit at Cass Tech High School to present their memo of understanding to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to allow the Pistons to move into the under-construction Little Caesars Arena.
After viewing the Pistons’ proposal, the DDDA voted unanimously to approve. Mayor Mike Duggan expects the financial details to be complete at the end of the first fiscal quarter in March, as this was a preliminary meeting and the first opportunity the DDDA has had to view the memo of understanding.
Little Caesars Arena was originally conceived as the exclusive home of the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL, set to replace the aging Joe Louis Arena. It’s planned to be fully operational and ready for the start of Red Wings training camp in September of 2017.
The arena is being built beside the I-75 and Woodward Avenue intersection in Detroit’s Midtown region and will be mere blocks from where the Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park and where the Detroit Lions play at Ford Field, which are directly across the street from each other. This tight grouping of venues means that the city of Detroit will be the only North American city to have all four major sports teams completely within its downtown core.
The Pistons, Olympia Entertainment and the city of Detroit had to act quickly to strike an agreement as building the arena for two equal partners would be much cheaper and easier than retrofitting the venue for a second tenant after construction was complete. Both teams will need their own home and away locker rooms and signage, and one of the Pistons’ priorities in this agreement was that the Pistons would be equal partners in all ways, not an inferior tenant.
There will still be more details forthcoming as the Pistons have yet to decide upon a location for the $50 million, 60,000 square foot practice facility they plan on building in the area.
As for the current timeline, the Pistons will begin play at Little Caesars Arena at the start of the 2017 season, while the practice facility and Palace Sports and Entertainment business offices and headquarters will follow to the downtown area in 2018.
Per the agreement with the city of Detroit, the Pistons will invest $2.5 million over six years to construct, renovate and refurbish 60 basketball courts throughout the city. In turn, the Pistons required the city to sign an agreement that they would maintain those courts.
They are also required to ensure that at least 51 percent of construction employees in the building of the practice facility are Detroit residents, and they have agreed to award at least 30 percent of the value of all construction contracts in the building of the facility to Detroit-based companies.
The Detroit Pistons have also committed to providing 20,000 free tickets per season to Detroit youth and residents.