BY SUZETTE HACKNEY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Mayor Dave Bing spent his days as a Detroit Pistons basketball star playing in the intimate Cobo Arena in downtown Detroit. Now, he hopes to lure his team back to its old home.
Not the Pistons’ actual old home — the 10,000-seat arena would be laughable by today’s standards — but a new arena that could potentially house the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings.
“I think we can get the Pistons downtown,” Bing said during a meeting Thursday with news media executives.
The Wings haven’t renewed their lease at Joe Louis Arena, their home since 1979, and are looking for new digs. Cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago
Philadelphia, Dallas and New York have shared sports facilities that house hockey and basketball.
The idea of the Pistons returning to Detroit drew a generally enthusiastic reaction from fans waiting to see the Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.
“Everybody else is down here — where are the Pistons at?” said Will Matigian, 24, of Southfield. “Bring them home.”
The Detroit Pistons played at Cobo Arena from 1961 until the 1977-78 season ended, before moving to a temporary home at the Pontiac Silverdome and finally to the Palace of Auburn Hills.
They are the lone Detroit team to move from the city to suburbs and not return downtown. The Detroit Lions played at the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975 to 2001, before moving into their new home at downtown’s Ford Field in 2002. The Detroit Tigers moved a couple of miles to the east when Comerica Park opened in 2000.
Karen Dumas, Bing’s group executive for communications, said the mayor is hopeful that the dynamics — the potential sale of the Pistons and the Red Wings needing a new home — could bring a new arena to the city’s business district.
“Maybe the stars are aligning themselves to make Detroit attractive for the Pistons to come home,” Dumas said. “The mayor has and will continue to express his desire for the team to return downtown.”