Gores: Downtown move for Pistons still a possibility
Auburn Hills — The Palace remains the venue of choice for the Pistons until further notice.
Owner Tom Gores, however, reaffirmed that a move to downtown Detroit remains a possibility despite recent upgrades to the Auburn Hills arena.
“We’ve talked about this for a long time,” Gores said. “I think you’ve got to respect the home you are in. Whatever home you are living in you’ve got to make it the best possible.
“So I don’t rule out downtown, but for now this is our home. I can’t have guests in the house and not take care of this house.”
Former Detroit Mayors Dennis Archer and Dave Bing support a move to the unnamed Red Wings arena, which is under construction west of Woodward and east of Clifford and scheduled to open in 2017.
“I am biased and I am not afraid to say it, the Pistons belong downtown,” Bing said. “Basketball is a city game, and (Gores) understands that. You are losing a lot of opportunity from the population standpoint by staying where he is. You don’t see a lot of people from Detroit, Canadians, Downriver people, people from Ohio or Ann Arbor. Downtown Detroit is a much easier place to get to.”
Archer, who served as mayor from 1994-2002, agrees with Bing, even if it’s for just a few games a year.
“Mr. Gores has encouraged his folks to have discussions with the Red Wings, if nothing else than to play several games in the new area,” Archer said. “I am encouraged by that.”
The Pistons played at Cobo Arena from 1961-78 before moving to the Pontiac Silverdome. Late owner Bill Davidson then built The Palace in Auburn Hills, where the Pistons have played since 1988.
Bing believes a window of opportunity to move the team downtown will happen in the next 2-5 years.
“I think there are conversations going on internally but once again until an arena is built they don’t have a place to play downtown,” Bing said. “(Gores) has to build a good team so he has a good product. That is not going to happen overnight.”
Bing said the new stadium should be a boost to the city’s economy if the proposed 45-block area around it also is developed.
“If they do all the other things around the stadium, all the development they are talking about,” Bing said. “That is permanent. It’s long term. You are going to have people living there.”
“It is going to be outstanding,” he said of the new arena and its impact. “This is going to be spectacular. This city is going to come back in ways we never dreamed of and it will give new hope for the city.”
Archer said cities need pro sports. He was mayor in Detroit when Cleveland lost the Browns to Baltimore in 1996.
“That city was devastated,” Archer said. “All of the mayors worked together and told the NFL it was not appreciated and not respected and demanded to do something.”
The NFL eventually replaced that team with the current Browns.