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Could Detroit Pistons Move Affect District Detroit?

Detroit Pistons

While a proposed move of the Detroit Pistons to Little Caesars Arena would enhance the city’s sports scene, some are wondering if it will affect adjacent development.

As has been envisioned by Olympia Entertainment and the Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesars Arena will be surrounded by a development known as The District Detroit. The vision for that development has not only been  to build pre- and post-game entertainment options, but to also attract new residents to downtown Detroit.

Attracting a sizable base of residents, however, would likely require that some major retail options set up shop in the area.  Some are questioning if the move of the Pistons to the arena, which will add to the roughly 140 annual event nights that Olympia Entertainment has previously projected for the venue, will ultimately act as a deterrent for retail development. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:

But sports teams don’t always provide the revitalization boost one might expect — especially for people hoping for a Target or Meijer, according to Robert Gibbs, a retail and urban planning expert who is managing principal of Birmingham-based Gibbs Planning Group Inc.

“Restaurants and bars will do much better,” said Gibbs, who also teaches in the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. “But the impact on retailers will probably be more negative than positive.”

The logic goes like this: A sports fan is oriented toward grabbing food and drink before or after a game, or maybe a souvenir T-shirt. Less likely is piggybacking a grocery shopping trip or a boutique visit.

Shoppers actually tend to avoid areas around sports arenas when games are taking place and those going to games tend not to go shopping before or after games, said Gibbs. So attracting new retail to the area might be actually hindered rather than boosted by a Pistons move.

The number of new residents and income level could also come into play, as those are both factors that retail stores will consider before deciding whether to set up shop in The District Detroit. Little Caesars Arena will open next fall, and the Pistons are expected to announce their move from The Palace of Auburn Hills in the coming weeks.

RELATED STORIES: Detroit Pistons Close to Moving DowntownPistons Discussing Move to Little Caesars ArenaDetroit Pistons Mulling Downtown Move

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