17 October 2010

Ilitch 'Committed' to building new Downtown Sports Arena

The Detroit Free Press

Mike Ilitch is “definitely committed” to building a new sports arena downtown, and he would fill it with entertainment technology unlike anything seen before in arenas, Ilitch point man Tom Wilson said this morning.

Speaking at a Temple Israel Brotherhood breakfast in West Bloomfield, Wilson declined to discuss any details of talks underway between the Ilitch organization and representatives of Detroit Pistons owner Karen Davidson over buying the Pistons and its parent Palace Sports & Entertainment.

But in an hour-long talk mostly devoted to anecdotes about Wilson’s former boss, the late Bill Davidson, Wilson said he believed a new sports arena downtown “can be transformational” for Detroit’s entertainment scene.

The Ilitch-owned Detroit Red Wings currently are negotiating a new lease to continue playing temporarily in their longtime home at Joe Louis Arena. But Wilson called the Joe “old technology” and said, “It’s a little bit antiquated.”

Wilson did not break any news in his remarks, but his musings on what a new arena would be like hinted that a new downtown arena could set a standard much as the Davidson-owned Palace of Auburn Hills did when it opened in the 1980s.

Noting that fans today can get more replays from an iPhone app than from an arena screen, Wilson said, “You have to put a lot of technology in and anticipate what people are going to want.” He added, “I think you’re going to see an awful lot more technology in a new building.”

Wilson worked for Bill Davidson for 32 years, and in today’s remarks he noted how many times Davidson had made visionary moves others didn’t understand until Davidson succeeded with them.

“I watched him take foolish risks because he had such amazing confidence in his ability, and he had such amazing confidence in his people,” Wilson said.

No comments: