Wayne State might add $25M arena; Pistons’ G-League team could play there

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Wayne State University athletic campus is on the verge of getting a big addition, and the Detroit Pistons’ organization could be a major partner in the venture.

At its meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the Wayne State Board of Governors is expected to review a proposal to approve construction for a new basketball facility for the men’s and women’s teams.

Wayne State University could be adding a $25-million athletic complex at the corner of Warren and Trumbull.

The project would cost about $25 million and the new building, at the corner of Warren and Trumbull, could be completed by 2021, a source confirmed to The Detroit News.

The new facility also could be home to the Pistons’ Gatorade League professional team. Their current affiliate, the Drive, now plays at the Deltaplex in Grand Rapids.

The Pistons have an agreement with the Drive through 2020-21, but the source indicated that if Wayne State’s Board of Governors approves the construction proposal, the Pistons could move their G-League team — whether it’s the Drive or an expansion team — to Midtown Detroit in time for the 2021-22 season.

Wayne State officials did not comment on the proposal.

Wayne State is paying for the construction and would own the facility, but according to the source, the Pistons would lease the facility for the G-League team’s home games in the league’s 50-game schedule.

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The Drive have been the Pistons’ affiliate for five years. Any change in the Pistons’ G-League affiliation or that team’s location would require approval from the NBA.

The Pistons currently play at Little Caesars Arena — about two miles away from the proposed new facility — and have a lease agreement with the Red Wings and Ilitch Holdings.

Wayne State’s current recreation facility, the Matthaei Center, was built in 1965 and was part of Detroit’s bid to host the 1968 Olympics. It has a seating capacity of 1,331 in the main gymnasium, which houses the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball.

The university has made improvements to its athletic campus in recent years, including renovations to the baseball and softball fields and the Doris and Donald Duchene Sr. Athletic Facility, which was built in 2011 and was the first new athletic building on the athletic campus in more than 50 years.

The Pistons are nearing completion of their Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center, also located in Midtown. They play in Detroit but still practice at their facility near The Palace of Auburn Hills until construction is complete this fall.

Pistons owner Tom Gores moved the team back to Detroit and the Pistons finished their second season at Little Caesars Arena last week.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard