Pistons arena move to set first for Detroit

NBA basketball franchise the Detroit Pistons has confirmed it will move to Little Caesars Arena, the future home of NHL ice hockey team the Detroit Red Wings, with the initiative set to make Detroit the first North American city to house all its major league teams in the downtown area.

The move will take effect from the 2017-18 NBA season and includes construction of a new state-of-the-art Pistons practice facility and corporate headquarters that the team claims will bring substantial new investment and economic activity to the city, along with a comprehensive community benefits plan that will pump millions of dollars more into Detroit neighbourhoods.

The Pistons commenced their 2016-17 NBA campaign at their home arena, The Palace of Auburn Hills, last month, with reports at the time linking the team with the move. The Palace has served as the home of the Pistons since 1988.

The Red Wings are currently playing their final season at Joe Louis Arena before moving to Little Caesars Arena. The 20,000-capacity venue is scheduled to open in September 2017 in time for the 2017-18 NHL season. It will serve as the cornerstone of The District Detroit – a $1.2bn (€1.09bn) project designed to aid the city’s redevelopment – and will also host entertainment shows, concerts and community functions.

With the Pistons and Red Wings playing under one roof just blocks from MLB baseball team the Tigers’ Comerica Park, and Ford Field, home to NFL American football franchise the Lions, Detroit will be the only North American city to have each of the four major professional sports leagues housed within four blocks in its urban core.

Pistons owner Tom Gores said: “I've always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people. There's a big responsibility that goes with that, but there's also a big payoff. Not just for the city of Detroit, but for the whole region. Detroit is rising, reinventing itself. The Pistons are doing the same. We're in this together, and we couldn't be more excited about that.”

The Pistons’ move is subject to approval by the NBA, and is expected to be presented to the league's Board of Governors sometime after January 1. Between now and then, formal legal agreements will also need to be finalised.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the agreement for the Pistons to move is still “preliminary” adding that final agreements would likely be approved early next year by Detroit's Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Michigan Strategic Fund and Detroit City Council. The agreement calls for a contribution of $34.5m from the DDA to cover modifications to the new arena in order to accommodate an NBA team.

“This is further proof of Detroit's resurgence and we look forward to welcoming the Pistons in their new home,” Duggan added.