Pistons announce move to Downtown Detroit

DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons held a press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday with Ilitch Holdings to discuss the Pistons moving downtown. 

Local 4 confirmed Monday that the Pistons would officially announce a move to Downtown Detroit.

The Pistons announced Tuesday that they will open the 2017-18 season at Little Caesars Arena. They will share the arena with the Detroit Red Wings, who are in the midst of their final season at Joe Louis Arena.

The Pistons will also build a practice facility and corporate headquarters near the stadium.

WATCH: Pistons release awesome hype video for move to Detroit

"This is a historic day for our franchise, and for the City of Detroit,” Pistons Owner Tom Gores said. "We’re moving to a beautiful new arena that will provide a state-of-the-art fan experience, and we’re investing in the future of Detroit. I've always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people. There’s a big responsibility that goes with that, but there’s also a big payoff. Not just for the city of Detroit, but for the whole region. Detroit is rising, reinventing itself. The Pistons are doing the same. We’re in this together, and we couldn’t be more excited about that."

Chris Ilitch called the announcement a "watershed moment" for the city and state.

READ: Oakland County Executive "wishes Pistons well"

"Tom Gores and the Pistons will contribute tremendously toward the incredible, positive momentum underway in Detroit, making our city stronger, which benefits residents, businesses and visitors not only in the city, but also across our region and state," Ititch said. "This is a bold move that will have a positive effect throughout our entire community."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the move is another sign of Detroit's turnaround.

"This is further proof of Detroit's resurgence and we look forward to welcoming the Pistons in their new home," Duggan said.

MORE: Sources: Palace of Auburn Hills will be sold, demolished after Pistons move

"I am so impressed by the vision of Chris Ilitch and his parents," Gores said. "We admire everything Mike and Marian Ilitch have done in Detroit and the passion they have for the city. Their dedication has served as a catalyst for so much investment and we are proud to join them in this effort."

VIDEOS: Take virtual tour of Red Wings' Little Caesars Arena

Leaving The Palace

The Pistons have played at The Palace of Auburn Hills since 1988, after previously playing at Cobo Arena and the Pontiac Silverdome.

The Pistons will honor the history of The Palace throughout the season in a series of special event nights highlighting the players, championships and special moments that made The Palace is one of the nation’s premier venues.

"The Palace has been an incredible home filled with great memories and has served the franchise well for nearly three decades," Gores said. "The entire Pistons organization appreciates the dedication of everyone in Auburn Hills and Oakland County who helped make the Palace so successful."

Gores said that Ethan Davidson, whose father, William Davidson, built The Palace and owned the team for 37 years, will help serve as a curator of Pistons history in the new arena.

"The Pistons have such a rich history and it’s important that our new home pays respect to that great tradition," Gores said. "Ethan and his family contributed so much to that legacy and I’m grateful that he’s agreed to be part of this transition as we set the stage to create more great memories in the years ahead."

All four professional Detroit teams will be within a four-block radius of each other. It's viewed as a win for downtown, Midtown and the people of Detroit.

Detroit is the only North American city to have each of the four major professional sports leagues housed within four blocks in its urban core.

Community benefits

Under the plan, the Pistons have agreed to:

  • Invest $2,500,000 over six years in the construction, renovation and refurbishment of more than 60 basketball courts in parks throughout the City of Detroit in partnership with the City of Detroit’s Recreation department.
  • Employment of at least 51% Detroit residents on the construction of the Practice Facility.
  • Awarding of at least 30% of the value of all construction contracts related to the Practice Facility to Detroit-based companies.
  • Use commercially reasonable efforts to maximize post-construction employment opportunities with PS&E for City Residents.
  • Support workforce development initiatives for City Residents by donating $100,000 to Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.
  • Partner with the Mayor’s Office to provide mentorship opportunities for young City Residents.
  • Participate in the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer jobs program.
  • Host free youth basketball camps, clinics, and other events for City Residents to promote youth basketball and youth enrichment programs in the City.
  • Provide 20,000 free tickets per regular season to Detroit youth and residents to attend NBA basketball games, in support of and in connection with community educational programs and  initiatives.
  • Appoint and maintain a liaison to meet, communicate, and engage regularly with the existing Little Caesars Arena Neighborhood Advisory Committee or, with respect to the practice facility, if necessary any other committee created by the City for purposes of engaging local residents, consistent with the City of Detroit’s community benefits ordinance. 
  • Economic impact

    The Pistons outlined the perceived fiscal and economic impacts their move could have on the city of Detroit and surrounding areas.

    In the release, the Pistons said their move will help the local economy as they build a new practice facility and corporate offices to generate an additional $596.2 million in estimated total economic impact in Metro Detroit.

    It is also expected to create more than 2,100 jobs, according to a University of Michigan study. Those jobs include an estimated 1,722 construction and construction-related jobs and 442 permanent positions.

    The Pistons said the move could also benefit Auburn Hills, Oakland County and the state of Michigan if The Palace is redeveloped, according to another University of Michigan study.

    The study projects an increase of $7.3 million per year in new property and person income taxes and the creation of 1,950 construction and permanent jobs.

    Gores said it's premature to discuss the future of the Palace.

    "That is a valuable piece of property, and we think there is a lot of opportunity to do some exciting things up there that would be very good for Oakland County," Gores said.

    Related headlines:

    More on Little Caesars Arena

    The Pistons released some of the "exciting features" of the new arena, which is on track to open in September 2017. The team said the centralized location will make Pistons games "more accessible to more fans in more parts of Southeast Michigan."

    Here are some of the features outlined in the release:

    • The design will include a dramatic arena bowl incline with great sightlines that place fans closer to the action, the team said.
    • Increased pregame and postgame entertainment opportunities with expanded access to restaurants and gathering locations connected to The District Detroit – a new world-class sports and entertainment development revitalizing 50 blocks around the arena, the team said.
    • All-inclusive club spaces with enhanced luxury and amenities, parking and food and drink options, the team said.
    • State-of-the-art technology that includes WiFi capabilities with greater bandwidth, mobile ticketing, wayfinding, high-definition video, stunning acoustic sound and smart phone mobile applications that will take you from street to seat, the team said.
    • The "Via Concourse" - an indoor street-style shopping and dining experience surrounding the arena bowl that is highly activated on game nights and will be open to the community all year-round, the team said.
    • The "Piazza" – an outdoor urban plaza that will be regularly programmed with music and entertainment and serve as a signature new public gathering place in Detroit., the team said.

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    About the Authors:

    Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.

    Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.