Red Wings-Tigers owner Ilitch wants to buy Pistons
By DAVID RUNK, Associated Press Writer 34 minutes ago
DETROIT (AP)—Mike Ilitch, the owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, said Monday that he wants to buy the NBA’s Detroit Pistons in part to make sure the team doesn’t leave town.
Ilitch said he has notified the Pistons of his interest. He said he fears the Detroit area could lose the Pistons if an out-of-town buyer comes forward.
“When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn’t see how we could let that happen,” Ilitch said.
The Pistons did not return a message seeking comment.
Owner Karen Davidson has said she’s considering a sale of the franchise by itself or as part of a package with Palace Sports and Entertainment, which includes The Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Music Festival.
Her husband, Bill Davidson, died last year. The late owner known as “Mr. D” helped the Pistons win NBA titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004. Karen Davidson has said she expects the deal to be done by the opening game in late October and two months ago said Citi Private Bank was assisting in the potential sale.
In Monday’s statement, Ilitch said he wants the Pistons to stay in the area. He said Ilitch Holdings Inc. would be a “local, engaged owner” for the team.
“We believe we could bring a lot to the table that could be tremendously positive for the Pistons franchise, the NBA and the fans of this community,” Ilitch said.
The Red Wings, who play at downtown Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, have been contemplating whether to build a new arena, renovate their current home or move at least temporarily to The Palace, the suburban home of the Pistons.
The Red Wings plan to play the 2010-2011 season at Joe Louis Arena, Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman Jennifer Haselhuhn said. The team and the city agreed in June to extend discussions on a new lease deal for the arena, which opened in 1979.
Talks about a new agreement continue, Haselhuhn said.
This would be the best possible scenerio for the Pistons. I'm so glad Illitch threw his hat in.