DETROIT -- Sports and pizza boss Michael Ilitch said Monday that he and his wife, Marian, are making a formal bid to buy the Detroit Pistons basketball team and the related Palace Sports & Entertainment empire.
And although Ilitch did not say so specifically, the family has indicated that a key part of the move is a commitment to build a new arena in downtown Detroit for the Ilitch-owned Red Wings and the Pistons should they get the team.
The Ilitch family already owns the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings.
"Marian and I grew up here, we raised our family here and we built our businesses here. Detroit is our home," a statement from Mike Ilitch said. "When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn't see how we could let that happen....
"I really want to see the Pistons remain the Detroit Pistons," the Ilitch statement continued. "We talked about it internally and when you take our 33 years of experience in professional sports, our commitment to this community, our passion for winning and pursuing championships, and you couple that with the opportunity to have a local, engaged owner for the Pistons, we decided to take a run at it."
The statement said the Ilitches were formerly notifying Pistons owner Karen Davidson of their interest, a necessary first step in what promised to be a negotiation that could last several weeks.
Multiple questions remain, including whether other suitors are making bids for the team and the Palace entertainment complex, which includes the DTE Energy Music Theatre, one of the most heavily booked concerts venues in the nation.
"The news is early, but promising," Karen Dumas, chief communications officer for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, said in a statement Monday. "The City of Detroit is excited about the opportunity of welcoming the Pistons back home!"
Bing, a former Piston, has repeatedly said he would like to see the team return to downtown Detroit to compete.