Blogtable: Should Detroit Pistons move back into the city itself?
Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
Pistons owner Tom Gores reportedly is thinking about relocating his team – back to downtown Detroit. Good move?
Steve Aschburner: It could be a good move, if it helps that beleaguered city dig out from years of economic decline and ineffective political rule. That’s the idea behind most downtown-arena projects, to have 41 game nights (actually double that thanks to the NHL’s Red Wings, plus concerts and events) plant a flag and draw consumers whose spending leads to urban renewal. But it won’t be a snap, because the Pistons own The Palace outright and control all revenue streams there. Going downtown, they’d be tenants of the Red Wings, and the relationship between those franchises’ current management teams is said to still be in the formative stage. Also, they will need to change Pistons’ fans long-established lifestyle and traffic patterns. And either they will need to navigate the distance between their snazzy practice facility in the ‘burbs and where they’ll play their games, or add the expense of building new daily HQ. So I’ll say “good idea” at this point, lacking enough info yet to proclaim it a “good move.”
Fran Blinebury: It boggles my mind that Gores would give up total control of things at the Palace of Auburn Hills to be a tenant of an NHL team. But if he wants to champion the continued resurrection of downtown Detroit, more power to him.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Tough to say without knowing the financial details, likely to include sharing an arena with the Hockeytown Red Wings and the Pistons building a practice facility/headquarters. Attendance has obviously been an issue for years, although no way to pin that entirely on The Palace considering the team was bad, though headed in a good direction now, and the economy was very bad. The Pistons have done the research. They know where fans are coming from. If it’s a nice building and better proximity and the dollars work, no wonder owner Tom Gores has been looking at downtown for a while.
Shaun Powell: It all depends on the revitalization of downtown Detroit, which has been in the works for like forever. There must be a reason other than basketball to get the main fan base to leave the suburbs and fight the traffic on a regular basis. The NFL’s Detroit Lions draw downtown, but that’s only eight games a season. The Red Wings do, too, but Canada is just across the water. I’d love to see it happen for the Pistons and see it work. I’m just not sure it will.
John Schuhmann: As someone who’s not a fan of the drive from the Detroit airport to Auburn Hills and who covers Eastern Conference playoff games every year, I’m in on a move back to Detroit. If it would help the city’s economy, that’s probably more important.
Sekou Smith: Great move! As the only member of this crew who hails from the great state of Michigan and grew up attending Pistons’ games at the Pontiac Silverdome before the Palace of Auburn Hills existed, I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question. I grew up on the other side of the state and we made the drive as often as we could to see the Pistons play. Die-hard fans will follow the team downtown or wherever else in the metro area they would go. But if the Pistons want to join the rest of the professional sports franchises and actually play in the “city,” a move downtown makes sense. The ongoing revitalization efforts of the city could use the boost. Every little bit counts.
Ian Thomsen: Please do! To make the Pistons part of the Detroit revival would be good for everybody. It would renew his team with an inspiring identity.
Lang Whitaker: I feel like this isn’t really for me to say, as the last time I was in Detroit was before the downtown rebuilding even began. I will say that if a sports team can help revitalize an area or a city, great. I’m sure there would be people in Auburn Hills who would miss the Pistons, but it always seemed weird to me that when I covered a Pistons game, I would fly into the Detroit airport, drive into downtown Detroit, and then keep driving right on out of Detroit and up to Auburn Hills. Shoutout to the Troy Marriott, no matter what happens.
MORE BLOGTABLE: How should 76ers handle Ben Simmons’ injury? | Other favorites for Finals besides Cavs, Warriors?