SBD/Issue 179/Facilities & Venues

Red Wings Likely To Sign Multiyear Lease For Joe Louis Arena

Red Wings Likely Will Sign New Multiyear
Lease To Play At Joe Louis Arena

The Red Wings likely will sign a multiyear agreement with Detroit to "play at Joe Louis Arena," according to Michael Rosenberg of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Ilitch Holdings' Tom Wilson would not disclose details, but said a new lease "should happen." Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch has expressed his desire to build a new arena, and Wilson said Ilitch "is on record as saying he would like to have one, and sooner rather than later. But it is extremely complicated." Wilson stressed that the Ilitch family is "committed to downtown." He said, "That's certainly where the focus is. You could look other places, but I think with the dedication and commitment to downtown that everybody has, that's where we're looking." Rosenberg notes when the Ilitches hired Wilson from Palace Sports & Entertainment in February, the "public perception was that Wilson was hired to help the Wings get a new arena." But Wilson this week said that he has spent about 10% of his time "on arena issues -- and almost all of that was negotiating a new lease for the Joe" (DETROIT FREE-PRESS, 5/28).

BROKEDOWN PALACE? In Detroit, Tom Walsh notes the Pistons and PSE since Bill Davidson's death have been "trying to navigate a chaotic economy, an ownership transition and leadership change" at once, but "business is decent, all things considered." The Palace of Auburn Hills had its "best concert month in 14 years" in March, while the Pistons "ranked eighth in NBA attendance" despite their 27-55 record. PSE President & CEO Alan Ostfield said, "Yeah, we've had some change, and leadership during a transition is tougher. So what? It's also exciting. We're not in limbo. So what if we're being sold? They haven't put restrictions on how we run the business." Ostfield is "not ignoring the grim realities of what's happened to the Detroit region's economy and jobs these past few years." The Pistons cut ticket prices 10-50% last month, and Ostfield said, "The market has taken a hit for sure, but I don't think it's as bad as it's perceived to be outside of our community" (DETROIT FREE-PRESS, 5/28).

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