Embed from Getty Images Although it is still in the early planning stages, the Detroit Pistons are planning on moving the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons’ current affiliate to Wayne State University. The Wayne State Board of Governors have looked at a proposal and have approved building a new basketball facility project, it is projected to cost $25 million.
The Grand Rapids Drive is currently owned by Steve Jbara, so Pistons owner Tom Gores or another Detroit group could purchase the Grand Rapids franchise or attempt to land an expansion team.
The news is another in the Pistons’ opportunity to impact downtown Detroit development since the announcement in November 2016 that the Pistons were leaving northern Oakland County after nearly 30 years. The Pistons have played the last two seasons at Little Caesars Arena.
The $90 million Henry Ford and Detroit Pistons Performance Center is under construction in the New Center area south of Grand Boulevard and is scheduled to open this September. With the Drive set to play starting in 2021.
The Grand Rapids Drive ownership offered a statement: “We are deeply committed to our fans and love being part of the sports landscape in the community that we’ve called home since 2014,” the Drive said in a team statement. “This team has been community-built and supported for five seasons, and we are looking forward to continuing the growth of the franchise here in West Michigan. We have no plans on relocating to Detroit but (will) continue to have great communication and a positive relationship with the Pistons organization. We are solely focused on our sixth season this upcoming fall, in partnership with the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.”
All that will not matter if the Billionaire Gores buys the team outright and moves them. Which would be a savvy move for the franchise. To have minor league players in case of injury or just to have them practice with the parent team make much more sense.
Currently it is a 2.5 hour trek, from West Michigan to Detroit. The agreement between the Detroit Pistons and Wayne State promises to bring around 20 G League games to the new arena per year as well as serve as a place to host Pistons summer camps.