Detroit Free Press sports columnist, Drew Sharp, published an article last week titled, The Pittsburgh Pistons? It’s not that far fetched. In it, Sharp speculated that the Detroit Pistons could end up not only being sold, but also relocated due to Michigan’s shrinking economy and a lack of corporate dollars needed to support the four major sports in a single market.
I’ve learned long ago that sports writers usually have an inside tip when penning such predictions. But I have to disagree with Mr. Sharp on this one.
While the Pistons are undoubtedly for sale, I believe they are not the type of franchise that would likely be relocated. The fact is, there are several smaller market NBA teams for sale at the moment. If someone from another city were interested in buying a team and moving it to their home town, why would they buy an expensive franchise like the Pistons? They wouldn’t. They would most likely buy the team they could acquire for the lowest price. I highly doubt that the Pistons would be the lowest priced team on the market.
When a team leaves its established market, all existing value such as fan loyalty, good will, tradition, etc. is destroyed. It is nearly impossible to transfer any of that value to the next market. The Pistons are worth more in the Detroit market than they would be anywhere else.
Given the fact that there are already too many NBA teams, I find it hard to believe that the Pistons could be worth more, long-term, in a city that doesn’t already have a franchise.
Times are tough in Michigan, that’s for sure. But times are tough just about everywhere these days. Leaving Michigan is not the answer for a team — and league – in transition.
What’s the answer? It’s time for player salaries, ticket prices, and advertising costs to readjust to the new economy. That applies whether or not the Pistons remain in Auburn Hills or move to the Steel City. My prediction: the Pistons will be sold and will remain at the Palace of Auburn Hills for many years to come.