Pistons plan practice facility in Detroit

Ian Thibodeau, and Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

For the first time in nearly 40 years, all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams will play in the city they represent.

Little Caesars Arena is scheduled to be completed in September 2017.

The Detroit Pistons will announce Tuesday that they’ll leave The Palace of Auburn Hills to join the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit for the 2017-18 season, a source familiar with the negotiations told The Detroit News on Monday.

The Pistons also aim to build a new “community center/practice facility” in Detroit at a still unknown location, according to an economic analysis by the University of Michigan done for the Pistons. The study says the economic impact of the Pistons move, including renovations to the new arena, the building of the practice facility, and the relocation of the Pistons’ employees is $596.2 million for southeastern Michigan.

The fate of The Palace remains unclear, including whether it may be demolished.

The development arm of the Ilitch family, Olympia Development of Michigan, announced Monday that the Pistons and Ilitch Holdings will hold a 3 p.m. news conference at Cass Technical High School. Ilitch Holdings is the umbrella company of the Ilitch family, which owns the Detroit Red Wings and is building the arena.

Pistons owner Tom Gores, Ilitch Holdings CEO Christopher Ilitch and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will be at the press conference.

Duggan also sits on the board of the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which will meet at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cass Tech, ahead of the announcement. On the agenda is an unspecified agreement relating to the stadium project.

DDA spokesman Bob Rossbach would not elaborate on what the DDA would discuss at Tuesday’s meeting. The meeting likely is related to amendments or changes to the concession and management agreement between the DDA, Olympia Development and the Red Wings, which outlines construction and operational plans for Little Caesars Arena and the immediate construction site in Cass Corridor.

Potential practice facility locations for the Pistons include land the Ilitch family already owns in the downtown area, including a three-block swath of property just across from the MotorCity Casino, which is owned by Marian Ilitch.

There’s also been talk of the Pistons building additional office space.

The DDA would need to vote on amendments or changes to the original construction plan.

Pistons fans split on team's decision to move downtown

The DDA votes on whether to support private investments and business growth within Detroit’s central business district with loans, sponsorships and grants, infrastructure improvements and other programs that increase economic activity.

In 2015, the DDA signed off on zoning changes that allowed construction to start on Little Caesars Arena, which will be the new home ice of the Red Wings — and where the Pistons will move. The rezoning allowed for vertical construction at the arena site and the razing of a historic building.

Gores, founder of Los Angeles-based Platinum Equity, earlier in November said he and officials from companies owned by Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch were “very close” to reaching a deal on the move.

The Pistons have been at The Palace of Auburn Hills since 1988. The 20,000-seat Little Caesars Arena will open by the start of the 2017 NHL season in less than a year.

Seating capacity for basketball games at The Palace is nearly 20,000. The seating capacity at Little Caesars Arena is 20,000 for hockey games and up to 21,000 for basketball.

The Palace’s future is unclear, but it could be redeveloped for other uses. The Palace already hosts concerts, circuses and other events.

The office of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson declined to comment Monday before the official announcement.

At Pistons media day in September, Gores repeated his interest in moving the team downtown under the right terms and hinted negotiations were in the works.

“We’re always looking at it. We’ve gotten a chance to really get to know the Ilitches,” Gores said then. “I know Chris now well. They’re a great family and I respect a lot of what they’ve done for Detroit.

“We’re always assessing it, but it’s got to be good for everybody — us included — and for our fans.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau