A Pistons move to Downtown Detroit beneficial for all?

Feb 22, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores in attendance during the game against the Washington Wizards at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores in attendance during the game against the Washington Wizards at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Will the Detroit Pistons ever make a return back to Downtown Detroit? Not to mention will any move back to the City of Detroit ultimately be beneficial for all parties involved whether it be the City, organization or the fans?

A Pistons return to the heart of the Motor City is a notion that has gained some traction in recent months. This has especially been the case with the continued development of the new downtown district that will house the new Red Wings arena which is scheduled to open in 2017. Tom Gores’ hire of noted sports agent Arn Tellem was also in some small part done to reach out to Ilitch Holdings and explore the idea to bring the Pistons back to Detroit.

Here’s Tom Gores commenting on Tellem’s role in investigating a possible Detroit move. (via the Detroit News)

"“We will put Arn in charge of helping us analyze how we can talk to the other business leaders,” Gores said. “We are going to charter Arn to study that (moving downtown). It will be one of his first things.”"

However is a move back to Detroit actually worthwhile for not just the fans and the City of Detroit but Tom Gores and the Pistons as well?

Depending on the route Gores goes whether it be sharing the new arena with the Red Wings or building his own in and around the district the initial financial impact could go one of two ways. The new district going up is funded in large part by $365.5 million in private funds with an estimated public investment of $284.5 million.

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It’s hard to imagine Gores being able to coax Detroit leaders into helping fund another arena in a city that’s already cash strapped to begin with. Not unless the billionaire Pistons owner is ready to front a large part of the bill. So it’s probably safe to assume if the Pistons were to move back to Detroit it would be in a shared arena with the Red Wings.

Looking past the initial financials, the game-to-game impact would be a plus for the businesses in and around the new entertainment district. More games between the Red Wings and Pistons would obviously mean more people funneling into the entertainment district and hopefully spending plenty of money.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is also a big supporter of a potential move for the Pistons back to Detroit. Then again Gilbert, a Michigan native like Gores has plenty of invested interest within the City which in turn would help line his pockets with more cash.

Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

In terms of the fans, I’ve personally always heard that if the Pistons were to move back to Detroit more fans would attend games.

I’m not so sure if that would be the case.

This past season the Pistons were 26th in the entire NBA with an average of 15,266 in attendance. That would certainly support the claim the Pistons in Auburn Hills is detrimental to home game figures. Then again the team went 32-50 on the season, a sub .500 record that’s helped the Pistons lie at the bottom half of NBA attendance numbers since 2011.

Between 2003 and 2006, when the team was winning and going to NBA Championships they were a top  the League in attendance and remained a top five team attendance wise until 2010.

From 2010 to 2011 the team went from number eight to number 18 in the NBA.

The biggest reason though a move to Detroit really wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for Gores and the Pistons is the pure financials of what game-t0-game revenue brings in for the team.

Since Gores owns the Palace, the land, the Pistons and everything pretty much corresponding to that facility it’s a cash goldmine for himself and the Pistons. Despite the lousy attendance the past few seasons the team has still been generating almost a pure profit from concession sales, parking, ticket revenue and so on. This isn’t even considering the amount of money concerts and other events bring in for Gores.

Sure Gores could move the Pistons to Detroit, keep the Palace as a concert venue and still make money, but he’d be eliminating a large chunk of that revenue without the team being there.

Again, it doesn’t make sense.

I think it is true, the majority of Pistons fans probably want the team back in Detroit. Myself included considering I live in Plymouth and having to deal with 696 and 75 when driving out to Auburn Hills is a pure nightmare. But as we’ve already seen if you win, the fans will come.