Some, but certainly far from all, fans in the Detroit area are thrilled that a sparkling new arena will open for business next season. Little Caesar's will have both the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons as tenants. Let the good times roll. Or maybe not. Actually, definitely not.
First of all, there was no need for this ridiculously expensive boondoggle whatsoever. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, much of which -- surprise!! -- will be foisted off on the taxpayers.
Second, both the Wings and the Pistons had perfectly good arenas beforehand. The NHLers had long lived in Joe Louis, though why they named a Detroit hockey arena after a boxer from Alabama that wound up punch drunk and broke would seem to always be a mystery. Only in Detroit.
At that, the Pistons left a world-class facility called the Palace in Auburn Hills to sign on as co-tenants deep in the heart of Motown. Their previous owner, one Bill Davidson, had built the Palace out of money from his own pocket, and located it in the suburbs so as not to displace many folks through the dreaded "eminent domain". No taxpayers dollars involved whatsoever.
Enter new owner Tom Gores. He invests somewhere between 10 and 15 million bucks in the Palace to spruce it up a tad. Never a bad idea. Then he turns right around and moves his team out of it to downtown Detroit, an area surrounded by crime and blight not far away on all sides? Where he has to pay rent to boot? Say what? How stupid is that?
And what do basketball and hockey fans in Detroit get in return? Well, let's put it this way ----
The Pistons and Wings better hire some truly brilliant marketing people, and very soon. Because the teams that will be going to Little Caesar's are terrible.
The Red Wings have been long overdue for a rebuild. They'd been living on borrowed time for years. Finally, they caved to the obvious. Sell or trade off most of whatever good players they had, try to stock up on draft picks, and hope for the best somewhere down the road. Translation? They're already bottom feeders in the eastern conference of the NHL, and their near future appears bleak, at best. This once and long proud franchise is going to get kicked around for a while. It will get worse before it gets better. But dark times loom. Hey, free agents have taken less money than the Wings offered to play elsewhere. What's that tell you?
The Pistons are in somewhat of a similar situation. True, they continue to lurk at the bottom end of the playoff picture in the eastern conference in the NBA, but it's more mirage than substance. The east is far inferior to the west. Even if they make the playoffs, they'll get blown out in the first round, and the only thing they will have accomplished is taking themselves out of the running for a lottery pick next year. They have way too many heavy-duty contracts committed to players that many other teams wouldn't even consider worthy of a roster spot. Throw in a head coach, one Stan Van Gundy, who is also the president, with not just one, but two general managers in between, and good luck sorting out that hierarchy of hilarity. Perhaps it's fitting they go to Detroit. Only in Detroit would this be considered business as usual. Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard.
So a city just barely emerged from bankruptcy, with crime still running rampant, now has a brand new bauble, replete with luxury boxes, and state of the art features every which way.
No doubt, the ticket prices will be even steeper than they were before at the former arenas. Somebody has to pay for this -- remember? And it won't be the billionaires that just HAD to have this in the first place. Not a chance. That's not the American way.
Sure, they'll still feature the watered-down beer, food you normally wouldn't feed your worst neighbor's hated dog, and a never-ending variety of "gimme mo money" come-ons. And if you're an average citizen that wants to take the family to a game, it's probably going to set you back at least a house payment. But dammit, it's brand new so "come on down" and enjoy.
Nevermind they have nothing to feature but the dregs of two major sports leagues. Ignore that. And you won't be far from the homes of the Detroit Tigers and Lions. The Tigers haven't won a World Series since 1984. They're projected to miss the playoffs again this year, and what few quality players they have that can remain semi-healthy are getting up in years.
The Lions are -- well -- what they've always been. Forget about the Super Bowl. They have one, flip up the middle finger on either hand -- ONE -- playoff victory since the Eisenhower administration, fittingly enough about the same time the ill-fated Edsel was making it's debut. Both offered to the public by the Ford family.
Yet the Honolulu blue and silver koolaiders keep coming back for more punishment, and paying more every year to boot. Did I mention only in Detroit?
At that, what's truly perplexing is the local media is totally on board with this whole new arena thing. That would seem to pose an interesting dilemma.....
Do they really remain gullible enough to be sold on this, LOL, concept? Or are they merely continuing to peddle the snake oil to the P.T. Barnum (there's one born every minute) sappy sports fans in and around Detroit?
If the former, they likely belong there as well.
If the latter, they missed their calling.
They should consider running for Congress.