DETROIT (WWJ) – Despite objections from some residents and two council members, the Detroit City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a package of agreements allowing the Detroit Pistons to move downtown.
Council voted seven to two to OK the deal, which includes a $20 million brownfield tax incentive.
Council President Pro-Tem George Cushingberry said it’s good for Detroit.
“It seems to me that this deal is an $83 million deal and there is approximately $8 (million) to $10 million benefit to the residents of the city of Detroit, just in the first ten years of the tax abatement,” Cushingberry said. “So it’s certainly a benefit.”
Councilwoman Raquel Castanada-Lopez was one of those voted no.
“Well I recognize that we will definitely benefit in terms of income tax and such, that does not mean that it is an equal exchange,” Castanada-Lopez said. “So I think that as we negotiate these deals with the administration and developers coming in the future, (they should) take into consideration what they are getting and not view it as a way of that we are so lucky that they are coming to us and wanting to do business in the city of Detroit.”
Castanada-Lopez said she worries that the agreement does not guarantee how many Detroiters will be employed at the new arena, and didn’t provide internships and other community opportunities for young people in the city .
She is also concerned the move will funnel away funding away from the library, schools and other city services that benefit Detroit neighborhoods.
“I am not in support of the deal as presented; that does not mean I don’t support the Pistons,” Castanada-Lopez said. “I grew up watching the Pistons, went to the parade when they won the championships. However, I think it’s important that we don’t conflate our personal emotions and feelings towards a specific team towards an actual business transaction.”
The Pistons will play at the New Little Caesers Arena, which is still under construction and slated to open in September, having left the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Former Pistons player Earl Cureton, who still works for the team, believes the move will benefit the kids and entire community.
“Our owner’s dream was to reach out to the community, not only entertain basketball-wise, but to come back there to do things to impact the city. And we’ve been doing that over the last four, five years and it’s going to be even more impactful now that we’re coming back into the city now.”
The team will also be moving its news headquarters and a practice arena downtown next season.