Pistons' move downtown could bring nearly $600M, 2,000 jobs, study says

Posted on November 22, 2016

The Detroit Pistons’ move to Little Caesars Arena downtown will generate nearly $600 million in economic impact for the city and create more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs, an analysis of the move by University of Michigan sports experts predicts.

The UM study, headed by Mark Rosentraub, the Bruce and Joan Bickner Endowed Professor of Sport Management and performed for Pistons’ owner Tom Gores’ Palace Sports & Entertainment, considered how the Pistons’ move downtown would generate new construction jobs, the value of ticket sales for games and concerts switching from the Palace of Auburn Hills, and the creation of permanent jobs both at the arena and at a Pistons practice facility to be built and potential spin-off jobs.

Rosentraub’s report estimated the likely impact of additional construction because of the move at $216.1 million, both for alternations at the Little Caesars Arena to accommodate the team and to create a Pistons’ practice facility nearby. The annual value of ticket sales for Pistons’ games plus an estimated 37 concerts was $90.1 million. And the estimated annual impact of relocating Pistons’ employment, including spin-off jobs, to downtown would be $290 million, for an estimated total impact of $596.2 million.

The UM study does not address how much extra income taxes the Pistons’ move will generate for the City of Detroit, nor does it try to capture how much new activity will be created for downtown’s bars, restaurants and retail shops or whether it will boost demand for residential apartments and condos or for new office space beyond what the Pistons’ organization itself will need.

But it’s possible that the Pistons’s move, to be formally announced at a 3 p.m. news conference today at Cass Tech High School, will boost downtown’s already growing identity as a hub of sports and entertainment. At the very least it will generate more than 40 more professional sports events at the new arena each year, which means more revenue for nearby bars and restaurants, parking lots and garages, and likely for taxis, on-demand services like Uber, and more.

Mayor Mike Duggan, Pistons owner Tom Gores and Christopher Ilitch of Ilitch Holdings are scheduled to appear at the news conference today.

The return of the Pistons’ basketball team to a downtown the team left nearly four decades ago means that by next fall Detroit’s four major-league sports teams — the Pistons, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, and the Detroit Lions — will all be playing their home games in downtown venues. And with Gores teaming with Quicken Loans founder and chair Dan Gilbert to try to bring a Major League Soccer franchise and an additional arena to downtown, that number of pro sports teams playing downtown could soon rise to five, a rarity among American cities.