It’s for real, folks.
On Tuesday, the word ‘Thanksgiving’ took on a whole new meaning for Detroit when it was announced at an afternoon press conference held at Cass Technical High School that the Detroit Pistons really are moving back to the Motor City. And nothing against Auburn Hills? But this is the Detroit Pistons, people.
It’s time to come home, fellas. We want you close.
The Detroit Pistons will move to Little Caesar’s Arena at the start of the 2017-2018 season. Business operations for the Pistons and Palace Sports will move to Little Caesar’s Arena in 2018. Mayor Mike Duggan said although the deal is still in the preliminary stages, he is sure the move will happen.
The National Basketball Association still has to approve the deal.
The announcement of site of the Pistons practice and training facility has not yet been decided, but two possible options are on the table, said Mayor Mike Duggan.
“The only uncertainty in the agreement is they weren’t ready to pick the site of the practice facility which will be about a $50 million practice facility,” Duggan said.
“There are two options in the agreement. If they build it next door to the arena, it’ll become part of the DDA project and the existing District Detroit neighborhood council will continue to advise on it. If they choose to build it outside of here, councilman Scott Benson, the author of the community benefits plan, has agreed to ensure the community benefits from the location of the facility.”
A few of the agreements made under the community benefits agreement include, the Pistons have agreed to employ at least 51% Detroit residents to build the practice facility and award at 30% of the value of contracts to Detroit-based contractors to build the practice facility.
Pistons owner Tom Gores said he is proud the team is moving back to heart of its fan base and sees it as an important step for the future of the Detroit and the state of Michigan.
“This is a historic day for our franchise, and for the City of Detroit. We’re moving to a beautiful new arena that will provide a state-of-the-art fan experience, and we’re investing in the future of Detroit,” Gores said.
“I’ve always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people,” he said. “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, reinvesting itself. The Pistons are doing the same. We’re in this together, and we’ couldn’t be more excited about that.”
In an exclusive interview with the Michigan Chronicle granted prior to the formal announcement, Arn Tellem spoke passionately about the commitment of the Pistons organization to the Detroit community. Recalling a favorite saying of his grandfather, Tellem used the phrase to capsulize what he sees as his mission at this critical intersection of his stellar career in sports and Detroit’s much-touted revitalization:
“We all do better when we all do better. And that is something at the core of what I believe.”
Unable to confirm at the time whether or not the move to Detroit from Auburn Hills was a sure thing, saying only that talks were ongoing and progress was being made, Tellem emphasized that the Pistons would remain committed to the betterment of Detroit whether they ultimately moved here or not.
“Even if we had stayed and remained at the Palace we could still play a role because we don’t view ourselves as being just in Auburn Hills. We viewed ourselves as part of Detroit, regardless of where we played. That we have a responsibility to be engaged in the city, to be part of the city, to help its revitalization and to help the community.
“When I came here and took the job over a year ago, Tom Gores’ view, which I share and am here to help execute, is, one, our team is a community asset. Two, we’re essentially caretakers of the team. The team is going to be here long after our lives are over. And our goal is to do right by the team, the fans, and the community. First and foremost. That’s our priority,” he said.
“And so when I came here a year ago, I was given the task to assess the possibility of a potential move, and whether that made sense, and two, regardless of whether we made a move or not – and this to me is the most important point – is that we wanted to be part, regardless of where we played, of Detroit’s revitalization and play a role in it. And make a positive impact.
“So over the last year we’ve formed partnerships with various organizations to accomplish that. We started with PAL, we started a youth basketball league in Detroit, which now has over 1,000 children playing in it, boys and girls, which we’re funding. Two, we partner with Say Detroit, and we’re rebuilding and funding the rebuilding of the Lipke Recreation Center and providing tutoring services there for that community. Third, we formed a partnership with City Year to fund Americorps volunteers to help teachers at Osborn High School to enhance class attendance, support the teachers, provide tutoring to students who need help with their English and math skills. Four, we formed a partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent and last summer we had approximately 60 young people from Detroit serve as interns with the Palace with our partners.
“In the past we’ve supported the Jalen Rose Academy. And we’re looking to build on that and build other relationships and increase our involvement and our support of those good organizations that are helping the youth of Detroit, whether it’s in academics, mentoring, or after-school programs like PAL with sports.
Mayor Duggan announced a reciprocal agreement between the Detroit Pistons and the city of Detroit to repair all basketball courts in the city.
“The Pistons have agreed that they want to make sure that there is opportunity for children across the city. When I told Arn that we had 60 basketball courts broken up, missing rims in disrepair 40 parks across the city. And it would be about $2 million to repair every basketball court in every park,” Duggan said. “The Pistons agreed that they will put in $2.5 million over the next six years to repair every basketball court in every park.”
In return, Duggan said the city has agreed to maintain the courts.
“We’ve also brought Dave Bing back into the organization and formed a partnership with his mentoring group, which mentors young African American males. And which we believe is an important mission. So we have greatly expanded our footprint over the past year and we intend to do more.
For 12 seasons, former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was a high scoring guard in the NBA. Bing played most of his career for the Detroit Pistons. His legacy extends beyond basketball into business and politics. Although, he is a world-class athlete, Bing has always been passionate about helping the community.
“I believe that every professional sports franchise, as does Tom Gores, that the foundation of the team is that it’s a community asset. Our mission is to bring people together. And that’s our primary objective is to use this team as a unifying force in the community to bring people together. Using it as a platform to build a stronger community. We can’t do it ourselves, but we’re here to support those organizations that are here to build a stronger community.
“We’re also looking at ways to work with the police department to enhance and foster good relations with the police and the community. And using sports as a vehicle to help that. Our players are very concerned about relationships between law enforcement and particularly the African American community.
“We’re always looking to work with our players and to encourage them to be socially responsible and be active in their community.”
“When we do these partnerships we’re trying to be all in in the sense that we really want to be involved, and not only giving financial support but showing the young people that we care and that the players are showing up and are part of our efforts. And our players have been wonderful in their support and we’re encouraging them to be more active, especially in the city of Detroit. We think that’s good for the city and it’s good for the organization. It’s a win-win for everybody.
“Detroit offers so much, and we should all care about its ultimate success. The ultimate recovery in Detroit isn’t just about one area of real estate development. It has to extend to the community. It has to extend to providing better education, and hopefully better job opportunities for the people that live here.”
Welcome home Pistons. Welcome home.