By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s Michigan Matters
If Dan Gilbert has his way there could be dribbling of NBA players again in the Motor City.
Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, said at the Michigan Chronicle’s recent “Pancakes and Politics” forum that he will talk to Tom Gores, of Platinum Equity, the new presumptive majority owner of the Detroit Pistons, about prospects of moving the team back from Auburn Hills.
Gores is winding down the process of purchasing the team and Palace Sports and Entertainment empire from Karen Davidson, widow of Bill Davidson. It is expected to be completed by month’s end.
Community leaders like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson have said Gores will keep the team in Auburn Hills.
Gilbert said he will bring up the idea of moving when he sees Gores at an upcoming NBA owners meeting adding it just makes sense to have arenas located in cities as most NBA teams do.
“I think everybody understands and knows that arenas should be in an urban chorus, whether L. Brooks Patterson or anybody, I mean, it really doesn’t matter,” Gilbert said. “An arena that just sits by itself, whether that was in the city of Detroit or a suburb, it just doesn’t’ make a lot of sense.”
Right now, Detroit and Sacramento are the only teams that don’t have their arenas downtown, Gilbert said.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing — an NBA Hall of Famer who played for the Pistons — said when Davidson first announced she would sell the team he hoped whoever purchased it might consider moving the team to Detroit.
Gilbert appeared at the Michigan Chronicle’s “Pancakes and Politics” forum with Mike Finney, president and CEO of MEDC, George Jackson , CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Dave Egner, CEO of Hudson Webber Foundation, and Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, talking about a host of issues.
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit is a sponsor of “Pancakes and Politics” and broadcast the events as special Michigan Matters programs. This Pancakes will air Sunday at 11 a.m. on CBS Detroit. WWJ Newsradio 950 and Crain’s Detroit Business are media sponsors.
Talk about the Pistons and sports was a mere snapshot in the far flung “Pancakes” conversation about Detroit – where Gilbert also highlighted his investments in the Motor City.
But as things tend to go in Motown — sports resonates.
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Speaking of sporting times, Gilbert took some needling over his handling of former star player LeBron James and his widely publicized exodus from Cleveland to Miami as civil right leader Rev. Jesse Jackson listened intently from the “Pancakes” audience at the Detroit Athletic Club.
It was before the season when Gilbert and Jackson sparred after James announced he would leave for the Miami Heat. The move stunned Cleveland and Gilbert responded with a terse letter criticizing James.
That letter then elicited strong reaction from Jackson who took issue with Gilbert’s criticism.
Gilbert was asked if he had any regrets about the saga, to which he joked, “No, not with Rev. Jackson sitting in the audience.”
Jackson jokingly jumped out of his chair. The two men smiled and shook hands after the forum.
When it comes to being a champion for Detroit, few are in Gilbert’s league as he continues to move thousands of Quicken employees from the suburbs to its downtown office.
Gilbert has also purchased buildings downtown and is creating a high tech enclave he hopes will be a catalyst for businesses and lure more young people.
Having a strong downtown Detroit is vital, Gilbert said.
Part of the problem in getting things going in Metro Detroit has been the bickering, said Sandy Baruah, who has run the chamber for a year.
“County versus county, union versus management, black versus white — that’s the biggest challenge I see,” Baruah said. “We have to find a way to knit ourselves together so we are more than the sum of our parts.”
You can hear highlights from that “Pancakes” on Michigan Matters airing 11 a.m. Sunday on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit.
You can attend the next “Pancakes and Politics” at the Townsend Hotel this Thursday as the region’s ‘Big Four’ — Brooks Patterson, Dave Bing, Bob Ficano and Mark Hackel — take to the stage. Carol Cain moderates the conversation.
For tickets: 313-963-8100
Carol Cain is senior producer and host of the Emmy winning Michigan Matters. She also writes a column in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or via email.
Get More >> Michigan Matters