Pistons hold groundbreaking for medicine complex

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Officials hope a new state-of-the-art training, rehabilitation and sports medicine complex in the New Center area will spark additional development in the surrounding area.

The Henry Ford-Detroit Pistons Performance Center, scheduled to open in summer 2019, will house a training facility and the NBA franchise’s corporate headquarters.

Officials say the project is the result of an effort among the Detroit Pistons, Henry Ford Health System and government officials, all who gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.

“Of all the good things that are happening in this city we wouldn’t be here without all the people that have done great things already along the way,” said Arn Tellem, vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons. “It’s really an affirmation of all the wonderful things that are happening in Detroit. It is also to me, my hope to be a catalyst not only for this district, but for further development and activity in the city. We really hope we’ll be able to attract more business and give more hope and opportunity for the city of Detroit.”

Tellem was joined Monday by Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

The 175,000-square-foot center will be on Amsterdam Street at Second Avenue, one block north of its corporate offices and two miles north of the arena. The connected Henry Ford Health System Sports Medicine Building will allow players access to team medical practitioners tending to injuries and providing rehabilitation.

“We are honored to become the official healthcare provider for the Detroit Pistons and partner with them on this wonderful investment in our community,” said Wright L. Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “Whether it’s a professional athlete, or, any of our patients, we know how vital it is to treat the whole person, and that’s what makes our ‘team medicine’ approach so unique.”

The cost to build the performance center is expected to be more than $83 million, according to city documents. The facility was part of a deal to get the Detroit Pistons to move downtown this season and play at Little Caesars Arena. The arena is also home to the Detroit Red Wings.

In June, the Detroit City Council voted 7-2 in favor of several associated agreements, including a $20 million brownfield tax incentive, development plan and community benefits for the Pistons practice facility and headquarters.

The project is expected to come before the Michigan Strategic Fund Board on Tuesday as part of the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act.

Former Detroit Mayor and NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing speaks to Piston's announcer George Blaha.

Mayor Mike Duggan noted a number of development projects in the area, including the new Henry Ford Cancer Institute slated to open in 2020 and the Platform LLC’s renovation of the Fisher Building.

“The businesses are coming back,” Duggan said. “When Arn Tellem showed up and said I want to bring the Pistons back home to me, the most important part is this: There are 15 players on the NBA roster; there are 200 employees in the Pistons headquarters. We’re moving those 200 jobs back into the city. Which means Detroiters are going to have the chance of internships and getting those jobs that were 45 minutes away in Auburn Hills. We’re bringing these jobs back to this neighborhood.”

Duggan said that on his desk are three proposals for housing developments in the north end.

“It’s going to spread the development all through the neighborhood,” he said.

According to officials, the facility will serve as a hub for fitness, health and nutrition programming through the Detroit Pistons Fit and annual NBA Fit Week efforts. It will also host youth basketball clinics and Pistons Academy basketball programs.

“One of the things that is so important is the exposure that this is going to give to Detroit kids and Wayne County kids about the sport of basketball and sportsmanship itself,” Evans said. “It’s great to see the leaders here who will be able to be a beacon particular for children of color, but for everyone.”

Officials say the complex will feature public spaces available for community relations, networking receptions and team-hosted events.

Four key players involved in the project are based in Detroit. The Platform LLC was selected as developer and architecture firm Rossetti is the designer of the buildings. The Christman Co. and L.S. Brinker Co. will serve as construction managers.

According to the Platform, the center’s features will include:

■Full-service kitchen/dining facilities

■Innovative player locker room and lounge

■Film and study meeting rooms

■Weight room

■Production studio and media/interview rooms

■Green space and courtyards

■Training room capabilities with full hydro and cryogenic treatment systems

An official groundbreaking is expected within a few weeks, officials said.


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN