The Lions moved from Pontiac to downtown. The Red Wings are building their own arena downtown. The Tigers built a new home downtown. The Detroit Pistons are still in Auburn Hills after moving there from Pontiac. Before current owner Tom Gores purchased the Pistons and many other entertainment venues associated with the former owner Bill Davidson, Mike Illitch was in the running to buy the Pistons. It was rumored that if Illitch did buy the Pistons he would look to move them to downtown Detroit and build an arena that would house the Red Wings and the Pistons. Ultimately Gores won the bidding war and bought the Pistons, but will he consider building a new home for the Pistons in downtown? I think there are many advantages to moving the Pistons away from Auburn Hills.
Game day experience
Sunday mornings and early afternoons in September-December are great. When I roll into the parking lot at 9am there is already hundreds of fans setting up their tables and chairs, prepping the grill for the burgers and hot dogs, dads throwing the football around with their sons, and the smell of football in the air. No matter if the Lions are 5-0 or 1-4, the fans come out in support of their beloved Lions. The same can be said for a Tigers game especially on Opening Day or during a playoff run. I have never been to a Red Wings game in person, but I’m sure the scene outside the Joe is just as electric. The scene at the Palace is much more calm and subdued, not just because the Pistons have struggled the past few years, its because of the area that the Palace is located. Auburn Hills is a nice area, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing really to do outside of the Palace. Unlike Comerica and Ford Field where there is a restaurant in the adjacent parking structure across the street, or Hockeytown café on Woodward avenue that’s sits directly across from Comerica Park. And not to mention the Fillmore and Fox Theatre are right down Woodward. The Palace is a beautiful arena and has seen renovations and updates in the recent years but is still missing the exciting game day experience.
Plenty of Space
We all know the story. Detroit has seen its struggles with businesses packing up and leaving and leaving behind another vacant building that will in time be torn down. The good news is that the Red Wings are taking advantage of the many empty lots that having littered the city for years with their recent announcement of their impending construction of their own arena near Ford Field and Comerica Park. If you do a quick Google map of downtown Detroit by Comerica and Ford Field you can see plenty of empty lots that could be used for a potential home for the Pistons. If I were to propose a location I would propose the empty lots on the corner of Cass ave and West Elizabeth street located right behind the Fox theatre and less than 3 blocks away from Comerica and Ford Field and right across the highway from the proposed new Red Wings arena. While this location would take away parking spaces for Tigers and Lions games, it would add much more in terms of new developments that would follow suit.
It Just Makes Sense
In my opinion, joining the other Detroit teams actually in Detroit only makes sense. Just imagine the scene on a Sunday afternoon in late October or early November when the Tigers are playing a home game in the World Series, the Lions are hosting the Packers or Bears at Ford Field, the Red Wings are playing a big early season game against a new rival from the eastern conference at their new “Joe”, and the Pistons welcoming in a brand new season in their brand new arena in Detroit. If all these events happened on the same day it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see 2-3 hundred thousand people in downtown Detroit: 65,000 in Ford Field, 45,000 in Comerica, 20,000 in both the Red Wings and Pistons new homes. The economic impact that would have on the city would be incredible. If this were to happen, I think Detroit would see more businesses moving to the city instead of moving away. People would want to come Detroit to not just see a game, but to just experience the potential game day environment that would be like. That potential scene would be unrivaled to any other sports city in the country. If this were to happen, Detroit could be the best sports city in the country. Its time for the Pistons to leave the suburbs and come home and join the new and exciting future that downtown Detroit has.