Detroit — Quicken Loans Inc. Chairman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had some advice for fellow NBA owner Tom Gores: Move the Detroit Pistons downtown.
Gilbert, talking during a morning business breakfast Thursday at the Detroit Athletic Club, said fans will flock to a downtown setting even when teams are doing poorly, taking in local restaurants, bars or a casino.
"It's an experience," Gilbert said. "Let's face it, (arenas) don't belong in a farm field in the suburbs."
The Cavaliers finished with a worse record than the Pistons this season, but Gilbert said the team still drew about 15,000 fans a game this season to its downtown arena, while Gores' Pistons at times were noticeably bringing in only a few thousand while reporting far higher attendance figures.
But Gilbert said he hasn't had a chance to talk to Gores, who took over the Pistons in 2011, because Gores hasn't been at recent NBA owners' meetings.
For more than a year, Pistons' officials have said they are committed to The Palace in Auburn Hills, pouring millions into renovations that will keep them there for the "foreseeable future."
In a wide-ranging discussion about Detroit's future, Gilbert joined George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., and Sue Mose, president of Midtown Detroit Inc., for a "Pancakes and Politics" panel discussion sponsored by the Michigan Chronicle.
Gilbert expressed his hope for a city in which he's invested heavily, acquiring control of 22 buildings in the city and employing an estimated 9,500 people. This month, Gilbert and his partners worked out a deal to obtain control of the Greektown Casino.
Gilbert said the nation — and the world — is fascinated by Detroit, from its crumbling factories to its resurrection.
"There's a spirit here in Detroit that is second to none," he said. "We have a real strong chance of going down a path to make a difference here."
Besides bringing Quicken Loans downtown, Gilbert's companies have put together a sprawling real estate footprint upon which they plan to transform the Woodward corridor.
Those buildings, and their availability, gave Quicken an opportunity to bring more workers downtown and to grow his business, he said.
Workers are closer to one another than they could be in the suburbs, creating "connectivity" that allowed Quicken to grow.
"You get an energy, a feeling, a buzz in an urban core," he said.
Gilbert on Thursday also:
— Said his companies have about 400 to 500 openings in technology fields that haven't been filled because of a lack of qualified candidates.
— Expressed apparent satisfaction that Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr as an emergency manager. Gilbert said he was excited that "the finances of Detroit are finally being addressed."
— Suggested the type of person he'd like to see as the city's next mayor: "They have to get down to business and not care about the politics."— Compared the world's interest in Detroit to its interest in Cleveland. Detroit, he said, is covered by rapt media from across the globe. Cleveland?
"There is absolutely no fascination with Cleveland," he said.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2013 ... z2RUx2zgrj