The Red Wings and the Pistons together in a new state of the art downtown Detroit arena. Too good to be true, right?
While two thing have occurred that makes this once unthinkable prospect a good possibility. One is the unfortunate passing of Pistons owner Bill Davidson this past year, and the other is the Red Wings ending their current 30 year lease at Joe Louis Arena.
Davidson always had a problem with Detroit (moving them out of Cobo Arena when he bought the team) and chose to build his Pistons and Palace Entertainment empire 25 miles or so north in Auburn Hills. His wife and surviving heirs are now looking to potentially sell the franchise (confirmed), and even work some sort of partnership with the Red Wings and the Ilitch family.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings are in the process of negotiating a new lease agreement with the city of Detroit for Joe Louis and could even potentially move to the Palace for a few years as the teams together build a new arena.
I'm a big fan of a new arena and I would love to see it downtown. Given the uncertain economic situation of the Michigan area, not even too mention the NHL and NBA, it only makes sense for franchises to share the costs of building and maintaining a new arena. This is currently how it's done in 9 cities including New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Atlanta.
As a fan who grew up on the East Side south of 8 mile, it has to be downtown. The Palace is only convenient for a small percentage of Detroit area residents and while getting there is fine for a once in a while concert it does not make a whole lot of sense for a team that plays 40 dates a year. I know there are safety, aesthetic and people with their cracker issues about a Detroit site, but all major expressways lead in and out of Detroit. If it's good enough for three of the four Detroit teams, should be good enough for all four.
While I like the atmosphere and good memories at Joe Louis, it's in a horrible location and that area could be better served by expanding Cobo Center (maybe some nice terraces along the river.) The Ilitch's also own all that land west of Woodward and I'm sure already have a pretty good idea of where it will go.
In the meantime, where do the Wings play. I thought this configuration of the Frozen Four at the Ford Field was interesting. Maybe the Wings could play there for a few years while a new arena is built.
The Detroit Free Press business writer weighed in on the news . Given the state of the economy, he doesn't expect big news (sale of the Pistons or a new arena) anytime soon.
This article from Crain's Detroit Business is 7 months old but still has the best information on the Wings lease situation at the Joe The Wings have until June 30, 2010 to work out a new lease with the city.