Experience with Professional Sports Teams:
In 1982, Ilitch was wealthy enough to bid on the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately for him, he was outbid by Tom Monaghan of Domino’s Pizza fame. Ilitch did, however, buy the Detroit Red Wings hockey team for $8 million. He completely turned the team around by installing good management, pumping money into the team, and trying new marketing techniques. He was eventually able to buy the Detroit Tigers in 1992.
Ilitch has owned several other sports teams over the years, including the Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League; the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League; and the Detroit Rockers, a professional soccer team.
- Ilitch has extensive Detroit ties and a demonstrated commitment to downtown Detroit. In fact, if he buys the Pistons, he might bring the team back downtown.
- Ilitch has experience owning professional sports team.
- Ownership of the Pistons would give Ilitch additional leverage in negotiating TV coverage and sponsorship for all three professional sports teams: Red Wings, Tigers and Pistons.
- Ilitch is a billionaire with deep pockets -- he is just a little lower on the list than Tom Gores as one of the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
Notes and Quotes:
- Ilitch has referred to himself as a "fan with an owner’s pocketbook.”
- There was speculation earlier in the year that Ilitch might be interested in buying the Palace of Auburn Hills, the arena in which the Pistons play, rather than the team itself. The Palace would provide a temporary location for the Red Wings to play while the hockey team’s new home is built in the city.