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Pistons move updates: Quick approvals, practice facility locales, and more

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The District Detroit

It’s been a couple weeks since we learned the exciting news that the Pistons are moving downtown and will be sharing the Little Caesars Arena, and the disappointing news that they asked for $34.5 million in tax dollars to do it. Not cool, Tom Gores. Here’s what’s been happening since.

Crain’s reports that the Detroit Downtown Development Authority went in blind for the approval process of the $34.5 million.

“At 10 a.m. Nov. 22, members of the Detroit Downtown Development Authority's finance committee convened for a closed-to-the-public meeting in which they would be asked to recommend a $34.5 million commitment of tax dollars to move the Detroit Pistons back to the city.

But they went into it completely blind.”

The press conference for the Pistons announcement was at 3 p.m. that day, with Chris Ilitch, Mike Duggan, Tom Gores, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, with the public DDA meeting directly before, leaving very little time for the DDA to go over the details.

Bill Johnson wrote a damning opinion piece for the Detroit News, calling the Pistons move to Detroit a Robin Hood in reverse, saying,

“Detroit seems to be ready to facilitate the Pistons return to Detroit at all costs.

But can Mayor Mike Duggan justify an investment of additional public tax dollars in a struggling economy and the reality that Detroit is broke—financially, socially and economically?

The homecoming is expected to cost an additional $34.5 million in public funding that will come from refinancing and extending $250 million in public bonds previously issued to help pay for the Little Caesars Arena construction. The bonds won’t require tapping the general fund. Rather they will be retired using property tax collections captured for “economic development” by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

However, the city can’t afford further cash diversions from the real problems that retard real growth.”

The editorial continues with discussion about some of the bigger problems facing Detroit -- crime, unemployment, poverty, the school system -- and how public subsidies for sports arenas rarely provide real community benefit.

What do you think, Curbed readers?

The final deal will need approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the full DDA, and city council. Everyone seems confident that will happen in the first part of 2017.

In other news, the Pistons will need a new practice facility. Many thought that could be somewhere in the District Detroit itself, but a Detroit News report says that it could possibly be in New Center. According to the article, councilwoman Mary Sheffield said she was approached about a site on West Grand, near the Henry Ford Hospital and new Third & Grand apartments. Interesting.