Detroit Pistons in talks to build practice facility in Detroit, move team to city, report says

Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 16:44:30-04

The Detroit Pistons are in talks to build a practice facility in Detroit and move the team to the city, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

A source told Crain's that if a deal is worked out to move the team, the 60,000-square-foot facility would be north of Little Caesars Arena.

According to Crain's, owner Tom Gores has been in talks with the Ilitch family for some time, and the talks have accelerated since he hired sports agent Arn Tellem to help with talks.

"Both sides have acknowledged that they're in at least preliminary talks to figure out how the Pistons could relocate from the Palace of Auburn Hills," Bill Shea and Kirk Pinho of Crain's wrote.

In October of 2015,Pistons owner Tom Gores said moving the team's home to downtown Detroit was a possibility, even though he had recently spent about $11 million to upgrade the Palace of Auburn Hills, adding restaurants and upgrading the seating there.

Gores was asked whether putting money into the Palace meant he wasn't interested in moving the team into Detroit. The team's owner said, "I've always believed you have to respect the home you're in."

At the time, he said relocating was not off the table, but that ownership has a responsibility to make the current home and enjoyable for fans as possible.

This past June, Rock Ventures CEO Matt Cullen spoke to 7 Action News about the possibility of moving the Pistons downtown to join an entertainment district that could include a soccer stadium -- something that was proposed for Wayne County's failed Gratiot Ave. jail site.

Cullen spoke about creating a vast downtown Detroit sports and entertainment district that would extend further beyond the already existing stadium and theater sites in the city. He compared it to LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, but said it would be like that, "Times five."

Cullen's boss, Dan Gilbert, owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. He and the Gores, the Pistons owner were involved in the attempt to bring soccer to the city.

At the time, Cullen was asked whether he could imagine a downtown Detroit that includes an NBA team.

"We would love nothing better than to have a Finals game in downtown Detroit with the Cavaliers and the Pistons," he told 7 Action News.

Back in April of 2013, Dan Gilbert  said publicly that he had talked with Tom Gores about the prospect of moving the Pistons to Detroit. Gilbert said, "I always try to put the bug in his ear."

Gilbert compared the crowd that attends NBA games in Cleveland versus attendance numbers for Pistons games at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

At the time, he said, on average, attendance numbers for Cleveland NBA games were 15,000 to 16,000 compared to 3,000 to 4,000 for Pistons games in Auburn Hills.

"Let's face it," Gilbert said. "These are arenas. They don't belong in a farmland in the suburbs. Think about it, that doesn't make any sense."