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Monday, January 28, 2013

Athletic bridges – Pistons in the D and Red Wings in the 'burbs?

With the Ilitch family finally making its intentions about a new downtown hockey arena official, and with the NHL finally resolving its labor dispute, it seems like the Red Wings will remain in downtown Hockeytown for the foreseeable future, which is great. The new complex seems like it would be very impressive and promising, and would turn countless parcels that Mr. Ilitch currently holds into productive assets for the city on multiple levels.

On the other hand, with the Palace remaining a fine venue, it does not appear like the Pistons and their improving product will move downtown anytime soon, despite sagging crowd levels. Investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a brand new facility when the Palace remains in great shape does not make financial sense. While the City is a core market for the Pistons, I can't imagine marginal ticket sales from a move downtown would offset the investment required anytime soon. Perhaps Mr. Gores should invest in express buses to bring downtown fans to the Palace instead.

That being said, I think the new hockey facility represents an interesting opportunity for future Red Wings and Pistons collaboration. Why not have the Pistons pay ~10 games a year downtown at the new stadium, and have the Red Wings play a similar number of games at the Palace? Such an arrangement could help increase accessibility to each franchise and broaden the fan base. NHL and NBA franchises share arenas in other cities, and the IHL did use the Palace in the 1990s, so the concept is technically feasible. This way, at least until the Palace fully depreciates, the regions assets could be utilized in a creative way that builds new bridges and connections.