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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Little Caesars Owner Looks To Corner The Market On Detroit Sports

Patrick Crawley |
October 6, 2010 | 3:50 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor

Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch already owns the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers. Now he's looking to corner the market on Detroit sports.

On Wednesday, reports surfaced that the Ilitch family has received an exclusive 30-day window from Detroit Pistons owner Karen Davidson to make a winning bid for the team.

If Ilitch successfully navigates the negotiation waters and completes the deal with Davidson, who took control of the team when her husband, Bill, passed away 18 months ago, he will control three of the four major sports teams in Eminem's home town.

More importantly, he'll give the Pistons a prime opportunity to move from The Palace of Auburn Hills (a.k.a. The House Ron Artest Destroyed) back to downtown Detroit, where they would conceivably share an arena with the Red Wings.

The move would not only rejoin two long lost Detroit franchises (the Pistons and Red Wings shared Olympia Stadium for four years in the late 1950s), it would also have the potential to revitalize the city's struggling economy.

Not surprisingly, this has Detroit mayor Dave Bing, a former Piston himself, donning a hat and gloves to drive the Ilitch bandwagon.

He's not alone. Columnists and fans are clamoring for Ilitch as well.

Either that or people really, really like square pizza.

Ilitch's wife, Marian, is the owner of the Motor City Casino and has been since 2005.

That holding, as lucrative as it is, could be a detriment to Ilitch's bid for the Pistons given the shadow Tim Donaghy's involvement with gambling cast on the league in 2007. Stern has been traditionally been one foot in, one foot out when it comes to mixing his league with the wagering world. I can't imagine he is chomping at the bit to pair the NBA and gambling under one roof (in this case the Ilitch household).

Then again, the Pistons have been a mess since Bill Davidson passed.

Adding Ilitch to the mix could add direction to this rudderless monstrocity, both on the court and in the front office. He's never been one to shy away from pursuing a big name player or personnel figure, and he certainly isn't afraid to lose money for the betterment of a Detroit team (case in point: the Tigers). 

Whether Stern is concerned about the gambling connection remains to be seen. Either way, this is exciting news for Detroit and for Mike Ilitch, the Rich Uncle Pennybags of the sports world.

To reach editor Patrick Crawley, click here.

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