Mike Illitch, the aggressive, spendthrift owner of both the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings has released a public statement saying that he wants to owner the Detroit Pistons, too.
Since the death of Bill Davidson, the Pistons have essentially been on the block, and the news trickling out has never been very positive. Despite the fact that the franchise has a championship history, is located in a die-hard sports town, housed in one of the best buildings in the NBA and is valued as one of the top-five franchises in the league, there have been murmurs of a low sell price and even moving out of the state.
That is something Illitch just can’t stomach. “When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn’t see how we could let that happen,” Ilitch said.
Of course, his motives probably aren’t completely altruistic. As owner of the Red Wings, he hopes to relocate the franchise away from the outdated Joe Louis Arena at the first opportunity. With ownership of the Pistons, he would be in a much better bargaining position in his quest for a new arena. He could move the Red Wings to the Palace of Auburn Hills on a temporary basis and sell the city of Detroit and the public on the fact that a new downtown arena would be home to franchises — the Pistons and the Red Wings — instead of just one.
With a team already in flux, I would think Pistons fans would take this as a great development. Illitch has never been shy about spending money on a winner, and that is music to the ears of many fans who always saw the Pistons as a perennial 50+ win team whose owner wouldn’t venture into luxury tax land in order to cement another championship. He is also dedicated to the community, so his stated desire to keep the team in Detroit should certainly carry a lot of weight.
Read the full statement from Mike Illitch below the fold:
“Marian and I grew up here, we raised our family here and we built our businesses here. Detroit is our home. When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn’t see how we could let that happen.
“The Pistons, just like the Red Wings, Tigers and the Lions, have a rich and storied tradition in this community and they’ve brought pride to fans and our community.
“You all know I love sports – all sports, from amateur sports to the various pro sports we’ve had the privilege to be involved with, and like a lot of others I’m sure, I really want to see the Pistons remain the Detroit Pistons.
“We talked about it internally and when you take our 33 years of experience in professional sports, our commitment to this community, our passion for winning and pursuing championships, and you couple that with the opportunity to have a local, engaged owner for the Pistons, we decided to take a run at it.
“We believe we could bring a lot to the table that could be tremendously positive for the Pistons franchise, the NBA, and the fans of this community.
“So, today, we formally notified the Detroit Pistons that we have interest in purchasing the team. This is a required first-step and we look forward to the opportunity to move forward in the process.”