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Judge Denies Request to Block Funds for Detroit Pistons’ Move

Detroit Pistons

In a decision issued on Monday, a federal judge denied an attempt to halt the approval of $34.5 million in funding for the Detroit Pistons‘ move to Little Caesars Arena

Earlier this month, Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon filed a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the approval of funds the project. The plaintiffs argued that their rights were being violated, because the funds in question could not be authorized for a project of this kind without a public vote.

Meanwhile, the defendants–including the Detroit Downtown Development Authority– in the case stated that issuing the TRO could ultimately prevent the Pistons from moving to the new arena from The Palace of Auburn Hills. Furthermore, it was argued that the TRO on the approval of tax increment financing for the new bonds could ultimately lead to the city to defaulting on the $250 million in DDA bonds that have already been issued for the construction of Little Caesars Arena.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court judge Mark Goldsmith sided with the defendants. The ruling stated, in part, that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that their rights were being violated under federal law. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:

In an opinion issued late Monday night, Goldsmith said Davis and Wilcoxon had failed to prove that an injunction was necessary as their lawsuit hinges on an argument that the diversion of education and parks taxes for the arena project should have been approved by Detroit voters.

“Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the right to vote guaranteed by the United States Constitution is somehow abridged by the violation of state laws regulating government financing that is subject to voter approval,” Goldsmith wrote.

Goldsmith issued the ruling after holding an early afternoon hearing on Davis and Wilcoxon’s request for a restraining order.

It appears that the plaintiffs could continue to challenge the proposal, but the ruling comes as some key dates approach. On Tuesday, the Detroit City Council is expected to weigh in on the proposal for $34.5 million in DDA bonds. Those funds would be used to help finance changes to Little Caesars Arena that would allow it to accommodate basketball.

The Pistons are also looking to have these agreements in place by July 11, when the NBA Board of Governors could sign off on the team’s change in arenas. Little Caesars Arena is set to open this fall, and is already slated to host the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings

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