Tom Gores’s Detroit Pistons may deign to play Little Caesars Arena.
  • Tom Gores’s Detroit Pistons may deign to play Little Caesars Arena.
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When David Copley sold the Union-Tribune to Tom Gores and his Beverly Hills–based Platinum Equity back in 2009, the vulture capitalist with Palestinian roots vowed that he was in the newspaper business for the long haul — all the while selling off a lucrative portfolio of U-T real estate that came with the deal. Platinum’s promise to stick around in San Diego lasted less than three years, as U-T circulation continued to plunge and news coverage collapsed, until Gores sold what remained of the newspaper in the fall of 2011 to La Jolla real estate developer Douglas Manchester.

The Republican kingpin frequently used the paper to settle political scores, ultimately unloading the operation last year to the Chicago-based company now known as tronc, which has continued to dismally shrink the paper. For his part, the bottom-fishing Gores easily moved on to his next high-profile venture, the Detroit Pistons, having snatched up the professional basketball team at the bargain price of $325 million six months before his U-T deal with Manchester was announced.

Akin to years-long declamations by the Chargers-owning Spanos family that they would never move their team from San Diego, Gores denied having any immediate interest in relocating the Pistons from the Palace, its aging venue in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills. “We all probably have thought about moving one day from our current houses,” Gores told the Detroit News in January of this year. “You still take care of that home and you respect it and it needs to be touched with all your emotions.” He added, “It’s always a tricky thing for us because this is our home and we need to adorn it. At the same time, we understand what’s going on in downtown cities and we’re looking at it very, very seriously.”

Now the billionaire has finally dropped the other shoe, cutting a deal with the Red Wings hockey club to share a new, tax-funded downtown Detroit sports arena. The arrangement resembles the way the Chargers may soon share a new Inglewood stadium with the L.A. Rams. Unlike the privately funded Rams deal, the Michigan project is being put together by the city’s redevelopment arm in hopes it will help revive the flagging city’s economic fortunes.

“Perhaps most surprisingly, the Pistons may not pay the Red Wings anything to play their 41 regular-season home games at Little Caesars Arena,” Crain’s Detroit Business reported last week. “In fact, instead of a traditional tenant lease payment, the Pistons could be the entity getting cash to play downtown.” Details have yet to be confirmed. The Field of Schemes blog reports that the total cost to taxpayers of the arena project is at least $334.5 million and climbing.

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Comments

Visduh Dec. 14, 2016 @ 5:18 p.m.

Detroit, if we are to believe just a small part of what we read and hear, is the largest disaster area of any major US city. Oh, others have had their hollowing-out problems and major losses of population, such as St Louis, but Detroit has become an urban basket case. Its finances couldn't be worse, and the social ills are just out of control.

Yet Detroit continues to tax fund sports venues. Huge swaths of its neighborhoods that were occupied and bustling not all that long ago are now urban ghost towns. Detroit can't deal with those messes, but it finds $ millions to build sports complexes. There is no rational explanation for these things. But that doesn't mean that SD has to get in the race for idiocy.

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SportsFan0000 Dec. 15, 2016 @ 10:33 a.m.

Detroit is having a resurgence and a boom downtown and in its inner cities. Like Orange County, Detroit experienced a municipal Bankruptcy. Detroit is home to some of the richest suburbs in the country. So, the press Detroit gets is terribly misleading. Detroit's City limits population peaked at 1.8 million during the post WW II boom year. A long list of complicated factors has lead to Detroit's city population declining to less that 1 million including globalization of the auto industry, some of its manufacturing and suppliers moving to the suburbs, out-state and out of the country, development of wealthy suburbs that ring the city, migration of families to other States, the list is long. Detroit's suburbs and Michigan's State population is doing quite well and has bounced back from the recession.

That said, corporate welfare for sports owners is not something that should be supported and/or encouraged. The Downtown Detroit District where the new Red Wings Hockey arena is going in is undergoing massive redevelopment. It is not far from the new Tigers baseball Stadium and the new Lions football stadium. Detroit is a very unique case where the sports venues do bring in massive amounts of high income people from the wealthy suburbs that ring the city to attend sporting events, concerts and other activities at those stadiums and then return to the quiet security of their suburban residences. Those people, very likely, would have no other reason to go into Detroit and spend their money since the suburbs all have shopping, malls, theaters and entertainment districts of their own. So, Detroit is using their sports venues to get upwardly mobile suburbanites with plenty of cash to spend to stimulate its economy. Those suburbanites may never set foot in the central city and downtown areas of Detroit and spend their money otherwise.. It is quite different than San Diego for the Chargers or the SF Bay Area for the Raiders.

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SportsFan0000 Dec. 16, 2016 @ 3:01 p.m.

Teams per game attendance X home games = total attendance per year. Lions 61,500 X 8= 492,000. Tigers 37,100 X 81 = 3,005,100. RedWings 20,027 X 41= 821,107 Pistons 15,500 X 18= 281,999

TOTALS 148 Events 4,600,206 total attendance per year

4,600,206 people going into Downtown Detroit and spending money. I don't have the figures on the revenues and taxes it generates less the police and other services required. But, I think Detroit is a unique situation in that many/most of those 4.6 million people would not step foot in or spend money in Downtown Detroit without those Sports facilities and sports teams in Downtown Detroit...

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monaghan Dec. 15, 2016 @ 4:13 p.m.

SportsFan accurately portrays the astonishing difference between Detroit's ritzy and middle-class white suburbs that ring the impoverished and now mostly black inner-city. A few years ago, before a recent fashionably hip made-in-Detroit "Shinola" renaissance, Detroit was distinguished for having more vacant lots than any other major American city. And huge swaths of its main drag downtown were lined by buildings burned out by arson. Presumably this is where "redevelopment" is happening.

But I had no idea that Detroit had become home to THREE new sports stadiums financed by tax dollars. As a strategy to draw white-flight exurbanites back downtown, it makes some sense, but I wonder if the Detroit metropolitan region is financing these enterprises or if the battered people of Detroit proper are being stuck with the bill. It sounds both cynical and desperate.

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Visduh Dec. 16, 2016 @ 8:07 a.m.

Can you or Sports Fan explain what supports those affluent suburbs when the auto industry, the reason for Detroit and vicinity becoming an industrial powerhouse in the early 20th century, is only a shadow of its former self? I mean, there has to be something there to make those suburbs rich and ritzy.

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dwbat Dec. 16, 2016 @ 9:42 a.m.

They already WERE "rich and ritzy" so why would that change? If the movie/TV industry left Hollywood, would Beverly Hills, Bel-AIr and Malibu suddenly become slums? Of course not.

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SportsFan0000 Dec. 16, 2016 @ 1:45 p.m.

Decades ago Detroit Auto controlled something like 80%-90% of the American Auto market. With the "Japanese, Asian and German invasion of imported autos, Detroit Auto's market share was cut substantially to the range of maybe 40%-50%. Detroit Auto also involves millions of supplier jobs and companies that make parts, vehicle components and much more. As a result of a shrinking Detroit Auto industry, Millions of Michiganians relocated to other states in search of opportunities. You can go to baseball and other sporting events in just about any other major city, especially in the Southwest, and you will find/see transplanted Michiganians/fans there rooting for Detroit sports teams. Millions of people have populated States across the USA that originated in Michigan and/or Detroit. The Detroit suburbs include middle class, upscale and wealthy. Because of urban development and urban sprawl, many of the middle class families and the upper strata with money relocated to the suburbs and beyond...getting nicer, newer homes on huge lots etc. Detroit City has a huge land area that cannot support its shrunken population. So City officials are demolishing abandoned housing and commercial buildings. You can see urban farming, parks and redevelopment sprouting up. Young Artists communities and entrepreneurs are moving to Detroit even from other states attracted by the dirt cheap housing and land prices in the central city and having a go at urban revitalization. It is not for the faint of heart. But, like Pittsburgh, Cleveland and other industrial cities, Detroit is making a comeback as a smaller, leaner, more diversified city.

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SportsFan0000 Dec. 16, 2016 @ 1:51 p.m.

Tom Gores is an example of a Michiganian who moved away to find greener pastures and opportunities. Gores is a native of Flint, Michigan that has also hit hard times with the closure of some of huge General Motors facilities in Flint, Michigan. Gores is using some of his success and wealth to try to help his home State of Michigan as have many other transplanted Michiganders that include Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and many others. Another noted person from the Inner City of Detroit when his neighborhood used to be heavily jewish, predominently white and middle class in one of Hollywoods biggest producers Jerry Bruckheimer, film and television producer whose credits include the three CSI television series, the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and Flashdance.[9] Bruckheimer also produced Beverly Hills Cop, in which Eddie Murphy's character Axel Foley is seen wearing a "Mumford Phys Ed Dept" T-shirt. The Mumford High School that Bruckheimer attended is now in a predominantly African American neighborhood..

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SportsFan0000 Dec. 16, 2016 @ 2:19 p.m.

Mitt Romney is another prominent example. His father, George Romney, was Chairman and CEO of American Motors before it was merged with Chrysler. GR also was 3 term governor of Michigan. Mitt went to school in Massachusetts and never returned home to Michigan. Mitt's niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel, is the Chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. Ronna Romney McDaniel has just been appointed as the new Chairperson of the Republican National Committee RNC.

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monaghan Dec. 18, 2016 @ 9:33 p.m.

Thanks to SportFan0000 for a concise history of present-day De-troit. I know a handful of proud-as-punch white Detroit natives living in comfortable San Diego exile. Whatever happened to beautiful and talented former Democratic Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm? She's also gone AWOL

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