With fanfare, the Detroit Pistons revealed a refurbished basketball court at Howarth Park on Wednesday, which completes the organization’s $2.5 million commitment to renovate 60 basketball courts over six years.
Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem was joined by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit City Councilmember Scott Benson and students from Cornerstone Jefferson-Douglass Academy at the east side park. Pistons players Jaden Ivey and Ausar Thompson were also in attendance.
As part of the community benefits plan between the Pistons and the Downtown Development Authority when the team moved from Auburn Hills in 2017, the Pistons committed to the courts investment that benefitted 44 parks. The Pistons-themed courts are also a major investment in the recreational activities of the city’s youth – a major pillar in Pistons owner Tom Gores’ philosophy that the franchise is a catalyst for positive change for the city.
“Moving the Pistons downtown has been great for our franchise and for the city,” Gores said in a release. “We’ve created jobs, invested in the community and have helped serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of New Center (where the Detroit Pistons Performance Center is located).
“The courts program is one of several ways we’re making sure the impact is felt beyond downtown in neighborhoods all around Detroit. It’s also an example of how you can exceed expectations by inspiring people to work together.”
Duggan thanked Gores and the Pistons organization for their continued support of the city as community members and local media outlets looked on.
“From the moment they decided to move back into the city, Tom Gores and the entire Pistons organization have been fully committed to being great community partners,” Duggan said. “Not only did they embrace the idea of building community basketball court in neighborhoods, they said they would build 60 brand new courts across the city by the end of this year for children to enjoy, and today is the fulfillment of that promise.”
In addition to fulfilling the courts commitment, the Pistons created a program to promote utilization of the newly renovated courts. Established in 2019, the Pistons Neighbors Program recently completed its fifth year providing free summer activities in 16 parks across the city.
"We have programming beyond just basketball,” Tellem said. “We have dance, crafts, arts, yoga and provide meals to the community so they use the parks and it's been a great joy to see the people taking advantage of these beautiful parks that are across the city.”
Gores has prioritized providing accessible, necessary resources within the Detroit community and promoted further utilization of the city’s parks since he purchased the franchise in 2011.
The sixth and final phase of the project was completed this spring and summer. The court refurbishments at each location included repairs to surfaces, basketball rim replacement and other contributions to basketball infrastructure. As part of the agreement, the city oversees maintenance for the completed courts.
The community benefits plan was devised to create job growth and investment in Detroit’s neighborhoods.
Under that plan, the Pistons organization also agreed to the following:
- Complied with Detroit’s Executive Order 2016-1 on hiring residents and funding workforce training.
- Used commercially reasonable efforts to maximize post-construction employment opportunities with Pistons Sports & Entertainment for city residents.
- Supported workforce development initiatives for city residents by donating $100,000 to Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.
- Partnered with the Mayor’s Office to provide mentorship opportunities for young city residents.
- Participated in the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer jobs program.
- Hosting free youth basketball camps, clinics and other events for city residents to promote youth basketball and youth enrichment programs in the city.
- Providing 20,000 free tickets per regular season to Detroit youth and residents to attend NBA basketball games, in support of and in connection with community educational programs and initiatives.
In addition to the community benefits commitments, the Tom Gores Family Foundation announced its $20 million commitment to fund and renovate a new 25,000-square foot multi-use community center at Rouge Park on the city’s west side. In February, Gores, the Pistons, Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University announced a $2.5 billion mixed-use development that will include affordable housing, commercial and retail components to be anchored by a new hospital and medical research facilities.
It was an important day for Ivey, who has strong Detroit ties.
“I'm very thankful to be able to be a part of this,” Ivey said after news conference. “For children to be able to come out here, be safe, play and to be able to be a part of this, it’s special.”