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Pistons and Red Wings: Could One of These Teams Be On The Move?

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...

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  • 1

    One thing that will help save Detroit and surrounding areas is rebuilding the core. Many people, especially those that live in suburbs, refuse to link sprawl with inner-city blight. Naturally, it would benefit the city of Detroit for the Pistons to move back within city limits and to retain the Red Wings, preferably somewhere near downtown.

  • 2

    I have faith the Mike Illich will keep the wings downtown, hopefully the pistons will come with them. The days of Detroit being able to support separate basketball and hockey arenas is over.

  • 3

    The ideal solution, from my POV, would be for Mike Illich to build a new hockey stadium, that might also serve the Pistons, downtown near the Fox theater. The Joe could then be ripped down and Cobo Hall could be expanded into that space. All problems solved. Of coarse, since it's not my money, it's easy for me to spend. Some problems defy easy solutions.

  • 4

    How about in every other major city in the Midwest, not to mention the rest of the country has made a way to finance construction of a new facility in their respective downtowns? And how is it even a thought for the Red Wings to play in Oakland County? Bad enough you let the Olympia go to pot, but the Joe? Figure out how to get them a few tax breaks and they will be more than happy to stay in the city another 10 years at least.
    As for the Pistons, I know that our good friends from Oakland County feel that they have a special province over the basketball franchise, the Pistons were doing just fine in Cobo, but of course that was before individual seat licenses and sky boxes. If you don't think a new facility wouldn't pay for itself, just ask the people in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Newark for crying out loud (?) and wherever the pro basketball and hockey teams share a building, and they'll tell you, it's best to bring them downtown. Think about the jobs, people that would be created. But also, seriously, before you can discuss building a new facility, how about building a winner? The Wings are not the team they have been for the past 15 years, and the Pistons, well, what can you say about them?
    Challenge to the new City Council...partner with whoever to finance a state of the art, two sport facility to support the city's most beloved sports franchises. And show the sports world that America's Most Sporting city can do something right, for once. And make the Ilitches part of the package.

  • 5

    I'm from right outside detroit. I'm already planning on moving into the city. my friend and i are thinking about opening a coffeehouse in Detroit. We're part of a growing new trend of young people coming back into the city--to live or open shop.

    My point is this. There is excitement in the air. People are beginning to see the potential of a vibrant city.

    If the Red Wings leave the city of Detroit, I will boycott the team, my god will I ever boycott the team. I could only hope people would join me.

    Mike Illitch should know better...and hopefully he does know better.

  • 6

    [...] since we all love Detroit basketball and hockey, I want all my fellow Detroit Lions football fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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