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Detroit Pistons Finally Find New Owner

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It looks like the NBA’s Detroit Pistons will soon have a new owner. The struggling club announced on April 8 that Tom Gores, a billionaire investor from California, has agreed to take over the franchise.  It’s been a long time coming, considering current owner Karen Davidson has had the club on the market for about a year now.

It’s believed that the deal also includes the DTE Energy Music Theatre and the Palace of Auburn Hills. The financial details haven’t been released and the NBA also has to approve the deal. That could just be a formality though and it’s expected the sale will go through by June 30. Gores is the CEO and chairman of Platinum Equity, and he’s purchasing the operating rights for the Meadow Brook Music Festival. Davidson took over ownership of the Pistons in 2009 when her husband Bill passed away.

Gores should have the money to pay for club since he’s listed as one of America’s 400 wealthiest people. Forbes magazine placed him in 153rd place and said he was worth $2.4 billion. The 46-year-old hails from nearby Flint, Michigan, and earned a degree at Michigan State University.

He said he’s proud to become a part of the Pistons organization and appreciated the support and patience of the Detroit people. He said he was impressed with the way the Davidsons ran the franchise and is excited to be back in the area he grew up in and taking over the reins.

Davidson was looking to sell the Pistons before the season started and was holding talks with Mike Ilitch, who owns the Detroit Tigers of MLB and the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. However, those negations broke off. Gores was also interested in the team as was George Postolos.

The Pistons actually play in the suburb of Auburn Hills, which is in Oakland County. L. Brooks Patterson, a county executive, said the deal is pretty complex since it includes the team, the Palace, and other entertainment options. Gores is already well thought of in the area since his company saved hundreds of jobs and created many more in Cadillac by buying the Four Winns boat manufacturing company which was bankrupt.

David Stern, the NBA’s commissioner was also happy with the deal and said Gores is a worthy successor as owner of the Pistons.  Bill Davidson became majority owner of the basketball team back in 1974 after failing in his attempts to buy the Red wings and the NFL’s Detroit Lions. He took over from Fred Zollner, who founded the franchise in the 1940s in Fort Wayne, Ind. The team moved over to Detroit during 1957.

The Palace cost $90 million to build and was opened back in 1988. The value of the Pistons was pegged at $479 million in 2009 by Forbes, but had dropped to $360 in 2011. Gores will have quite a rebuilding job on his hands as the Pistons have had another bad season and many fans show up to the Palace disguised as empty seats. The alleged feud between the players and coach John Kuester hasn’t helped matters either.