Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Tom Gores can do that matters

Tom Gores, a billionaire, bought the Pistons, the Palace, DTE Theatre, and Meadowbrook. So who is this guy anyway?

They say he's from Flint, and now operating out of California. That makes sense. You don't get to be a billionaire in Flint. Hell, for a billion bucks, you could probably buy that whole city, houses, businesses, dogs, cats, and all, and still have some serious change left over. So he didn't get the money there. Gores runs some outfit named Platinum Equity. Usually companies with names like that swap money around, and buy and sell things for a tidy profit. (Note to Tom -- they do that in Flint too these days. They're called pawn shops, but I don't think there's a whole lot of platinum involved.)

Nevertheless, he's the new sheriff in town in charge of Bill Davidson's old empire. Now that he's the boss, he can pretty much do whatever he wants. That likely means bringing his own people in to run things. This is what new owners do. In which case, Joe Dumars will probably be out a job when the Pistons' season mercifully ends. Joe's a good dude, and he's got enough dough for life, so he'll be alright. The head coach and his staff? They can kiss their Kuesters good-bye too. Chances are they'll land somewhere else as assistants on the never-ending merry-go-round of pro sports.

Everybody wants to talk about the impact Gores will have on the Pistons, but there are more important issues for him to address.

Despite his Flint roots, he'll be perceived as a California pretty boy. He has to change his image. I saw his picture on the front page of the Oakland Press. Nobody around here dresses like that. This is blue-collar territory, not blazerland. We're working stiffs. Well, we used to be before the jobs disappeared, but the attitude's still there. And that hankie in the pocket? Uh-uh. Hankies are only good for one thing, and I'm fairly certain if he uses it for that purpose, he won't want to put it back in his pocket. The dry cleaner would not be amused, and we're not either, so that's gotta go.

If Gores wants to be welcomed with open arms, he might consider issuing executive orders that have nothing to do with the Pistons.

First, considering spring is upon us and outdoor music venues will be starting up soon, lose the DTE Energy bit. Their job is to keep the lights on, not run a theater. So what if they're paying a few bucks for naming rights? Gores's a billionaire and can afford it. Get rid of them and change it back to Pine Knob. He'd be a hero.

Second, go back to the old ways and let the people that either can't afford or get pavillion seats, or maybe just prefer the lawn, bring their own coolers in again. These are the true fans. They'll sit out there on their blankets, even in the rain, so let them bring in their own munchies and beverages. Lost revenue in concessions? Maybe, but not that much. I've been there a lot, and not too many people on the "hill" will walk all the way down just to stand in line for $6 hot dogs, or $8 beers. They have their own ways -- trust me.
Let the coolers come back and the PR would be priceless.

Without getting into detail, the people on the hill, that can barely even see the stage, have occasional "needs". If they're not going to navigate down the mountain for overpriced concessions, should it come as any surprise that they won't make the same trek only to stand in long lines for restrooms? Things happen up there. Trust me on that too.
Throw in a few port-a-johns here and there and he'd be on his way to being a legend before he even hit town.

(Another note to Tom. I wish you good luck. There's a couple other billionaire team owners around. One guy sells a lot of pizza, and he's won a few championships. The other guy?  He inherited. Ever hear of the Edsel? It was a car a long time ago. It was ugly, nobody wanted to buy it and, roughly a half-century later, it's considered the epitome of failure. His team is sort of like that.)

Mr. Gores doesn't need platinum around here, but if he wants to build some equity in this community, then he needs to start off on the right foot. Can I load up my cooler and go to Pine Knob again?


  1. John, if I am not mistaken, it is illegal for a patron to bring their own alcohol into a place that sells alcohol. You might want to research any future ideas before putting them in print.

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  3. I remember being able to take coolers into Pine Knob, but I don't recall being able to sneak booze in (not that you can't still).
    Doesn't Michigan International Speedway allow coolers w/ alcohol, just not glass?