Word is that the wife of the late great Bill Davidson, the man who transformed the Detroit Pistons into a winner, is considering selling the team and the Palace of Auburn Hills where the Pistons play. While this has prompted its own fair share of speculation, the move is earning even more attention in these parts because it's led some to wonder whether the Detroit Red Wings -- who haven't renewed their lease on Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit -- may soon be sharing a stadium with the Pistons. And, some fear, that stadium may not be in Detroit.
Karen Davidson told reporters the team could be sold by itself or as part of a package with Palace Sports and Entertainment, which includes The Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Music Festival.
The Red Wings chose not to renew their lease, which expires June 30, at Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit and that has fueled theories on where they will play in the future.
In a city and region so often at war with itself, even these early notions that Pistons could leave Auburn Hills or that the Wings could bolt downtown has set some local sports fans on edge and are quickly morphing into quasi-political statements. I've heard some people swear that, should the Pistons move to Detroit, they won't come downtown to games. Likewise, I've heard more than a few hockey fans say that if the Wings leave the city, they risk losing both fan support and the "Hockeytown mystique" that's a big part of what some people think makes them special.
Personally, even though I loved when the Pistons played downtown in the cramped environs of Cobo Hall many moons ago, I also think the Palace is still one of the nicer arenas I've visited. And the Davidsons (who've been great team owners, BTW) own the darn place, so, as this piece calmly points out, the chances of the Pistons leaving are pretty slim.
The worry that Wings could leave, though, seems like a fairly legitimate concern. The Joe, for all of its charm, is old. And the Illitch family, which owns the Red Wings and Tigers, seems to have finally gotten fed up with keeping the team in the fading arena.
Plus, they know, like we all do, that Detroiters don't want -- and most don't think the city can afford -- to lose any of its premiere sports team. (And yes, that does include the Lions.) Just as even the inconsistent Tigers and their consistently awful football counterparts boost business and generate revenue, the Wings and their winning ways have been a huge boon for business downtown, packing sports bars, restaurants and other nightspots with clockwork regularity. The Wings feed more folks than just Henrik Zetterberg, that's for darn sure.
So what would you like to see? I know it's way too early to make predictions, but would the Pistons be better served returning to Detroit (and can the city really afford to lay out the welcome mat for them)? Or is it time for the Red Wings to head, say, north to Oakland County? I know we don't talk sports a lot on the Blog -- to my chagrin -- but this is as much about economics and business in the city and her surrounding counties as it is about point guards and goalies, so I'd really like to hear your take...