While we’re on the rumor front, there’s one out of Detroit that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch is considering buying the Pistons and the Palace of Auburn Hills as part of a scheme to get a new arena for the Wings. The upshot, as George Malik writes at MLive.com, is that Ilitches’ events company would add revenues, while “essentially freeing up the Palace to hold concerts on an almost exclusive basis while encouraging investors to fund a follow-on arena which would both succeed Joe Louis Arena and see most of its use as the home facility for both the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings.”
The basic notion should be familiar — it’s the same one that Newark and the state of New Jersey agreed to earlier this year, in sending the Nets to room (temporarily) with the Devils while the Meadowlands focuses on concerts. The idea is that by giving one venue monopoly control over concerts, they get to charge more, while sports teams cut costs by sharing a single home.
Whether the savings would be enough to make the math pencil out is dubious: Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business notes that buying the Pistons and arena then building a new home for the sports teams would have “a cost approaching $1 billion,” which is an awful lot to spend just to gain some leverage over Bruce Springsteen. Shea also notes that the plan would “likely will include co-investors and some level of public financing,” which may be the whole point of the exercise: Would Detroit be more likely to fund a new arena if it meant not just keeping the Red Wings in town, but getting the Pistons back from the suburbs? Hard to say at this early stage, but as seen previously, it’s just the sort of maneuver that Ilitch excels at.