On Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons announced a pending agreement to move to Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. The Pistons will join the Detroit Red Wings at the venue when it opens in the fall of 2017.
Reports over the last several months indicated that the Pistons were looking to vacate The Palace of Auburn Hills in favor of Little Caesars Arena. The announcement came after negotiations between Pistons owner Tom Gores and the Illitch family, which controls the Red Wings as well as Little Caesars Arena operator Olympia Entertainment.
“This is a historic day for our franchise, and for the City of Detroit,” Gores said in a statement. “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.
“I’ve always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people,” he added. “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, reinventing itself. The Pistons are doing the same. We’re in this together, and we couldn’t be more excited about that.”
“Tom Gores and the Pistons will contribute tremendously toward the incredible, positive momentum underway in Detroit, making our city stronger, which benefits residents, businesses and visitors not only in the city, but also across our region and state,” Christoper Illitch said in a statement. “This is a bold move that will have a positive effect throughout our entire community.”
Not all of the financial details of the Pistons’ move have been finalized at this point, but some terms have already been reported. More from the Detroit Free Press:
Financial details are still being worked out for the Pistons’ move to the Red Wings’ new arena. But a preliminary version of the deal limits new public investment to $34.5 million that will be generated by refinancing and extending $250 million in public bonds previously issued to help pay for the arena’s construction. The funds will pay for NBA locker rooms, floor seating and other changes to accommodate basketball.
The arena bonds are to be paid off using property tax collections the Detroit Downtown Development Authority captures for economic development. No funding from the city of Detroit’s general fund will be used, according to a term sheet the DDA provided.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said that half of the $34.5 million will be generated from anticipated savings by refinancing the bonds at a lower interest rate. The rest will be paid for by extending the terms of the bonds by an additional three years.
The Pistons’ move is still pending a series of approvals, including from the NBA, the Downtown Development Authority, and the City of Detroit. The final agreement may also include a downtown practice facility for the Pistons.
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