The Detroit Ilitch show

We’ve all heard the news by now about Mike Ilitch proposing to buy the Detroit Pistons. We all like the Ilitch’s. They’re good people and run top quality franchises in the Red Wings and Tigers. But make no mistake, he is a businessman first and foremost. That’s why he hasn’t already made the deal. The price was way too high. This deal is all about the Palace entertainment network. He wants the concert venues as that is where the money is. He only went public to garner public sentiment and pressure Mrs. Davidson to sell to him to ensure that the team would remain in Detroit.

The big three of DTE, Meadowbrook and the Palace are the whole deal. Even if he gets a new arena downtown for the Pistons to share with the Wings, he can still utilize the Palace for years as a viable entertainment venue. I would imagine he is looking for a price in the $200-$250 million range. Maybe the Pistons were once worth close to half a billion dollars, but those days are long gone due to the economy, the team not playing well and the labor situation upcoming with the NBA. Owning the Pistons today is a guaranteed loser for at least several years. However, the Palace entertainment network is an instant money-maker and Tom Wilson can step right back into his old job without missing a beat.

So the question is do we want three sports teams and the bulk of the concert venues run by one organization? Is it a good thing? Love the idea of the cross-promotions with packages mixed between all of the above. But for those that foresee cheaper seats because Ilitch would have better bargaining power with the acts playing his venues, don’t hold your breath. Remember, Ilitch is a businessman first and this entire deal would be about making money for him. All the nice warm fuzzy stuff about keeping the NBA team in the local area because he grew up with it is just talk. It sells good, but that’s it.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what alternative deals Mrs. Davidson has on the table to compare with. While the Ilitch deal may be the best of the bunch, don’t expect the Pistons to suddenly be resurrected. You don’t see the Tigers or Red Wings bringing home the hardware these days, do you? Likely, it’s still the best bet overall all things considered, but I would just keep my expectations quite low for changes benefitting the fans.