Last week the Detroit Pistons, who have been playing at The Palace of Auburn Hills for the past 28 years, announced that they’d be coming back to the city to play in the newly minted Little Caesars stadium next season.
The move was announced by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. The operations of Little Caesars Arena, which is already slated to house the Red Wings, will be run Olympia Development, part of Ilitch Holdings of Michigan. University Regent Denise Ilitch (D) is a member of the Ilitch family.
In a press release, Gores championed the project, noting the family’s longstanding relationship with the city.
“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.”
However, some University students, including LSA freshman Claire Westerlund, believe the Palace is a bit too far to go for a basketball game. Westerlund wrote in an email interview that growing up in Oakland County between Southfield and Birmingham is why she has only been to one Pistons game.
“I definitely will go to the new stadium to watch a basketball game,” Westerlund wrote. “I am by no means a basketball fan but it seems like a fun activity. With the new location, it will be much easier to make a day of it.”
She added that in the new location the Pistons will be closer to other attractions in Detroit where she can go with friends before a game, such as the Eastern Market or the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“I always thought it was weird that the Detroit Pistons didn’t actually play in Detroit,” Westerlund wrote. “If you live somewhere downriver, even if you were a huge fan, it’s not worth the trek, especially on a weeknight. Having the stadium right downtown will give the team a greater draw of fans. An out-of-towner wouldn’t be as motivated to come to a game and tour Auburn Hills versus getting to see Detroit and their team play.”
The arena, which is being lauded for its potential to attract capital to the area, has received some backlash in the community. In October, contractors of the project faced fines of nearly half a million dollars, according to Crain’s Detroit, for not hiring enough local workers. According to a city ordinance, local labor must make up at least 51 percent of the total work.
To ensure the Pistons’ relocation would be profitable, Gores had a sports expert research the venture, the Free Press reported. Mark Rosentraub, professor of kinesiology at the University, determined the move would bring with it construction jobs, increased value of ticket sales for games and concerts and jobs both at the site and potential spin-off locations. The total impact is projected to be $596.2 million relocated to the Detroit area.
According to the company, the stadium will open Sept. 17 2017.