The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, July 26, 2019

Pistons practice facility fits in with the community

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

DETROIT - It wasn't that long ago that some NBA teams would practice in a local high school gym or wherever they could find a convenient, empty court.

These days, it's a whole different ball game.

Now comes the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, a 175,000-square-foot training facility under construction at Second Avenue and Amsterdam Street in the city's New Center Area. The building will contain two full-size basketball courts for practices, but that's just the start. It will also house a  comprehensive sports medicine, treatment and rehabilitation facility managed by the Henry Ford Health System, the team's front office, and retail and public spaces available for the community, networking receptions and team hosted events.

"We did our due diligence and looked at similar facilities around the NBA," said Detroit Pistons Vice President of Public Relations Kevin Grigg. "We've taken the best attributes from them and we really think we're going to have one of the best performance and practice facilities in the league when this opens."

The combined practice facility/team headquarters will be the largest in the NBA. The first and second floors will house basketball operations and court facilities, while the third and fourth floors will house Pistons business operations, including about 150 employees. The site will contain the aforementioned sports medicine facility in conjunction with the Henry Ford Health System, the official healthcare provider for the Detroit Pistons. It will also have public space that will include a 5,000-square foot Plum Market cafe and retail location and a 15,000 square foot public-accessible Blink Fitness location, as well as a public/private parking deck.

The construction project is being jointly managed by Christman/Brinker. Christman Project Supt. Brian Crumm said between 150-180 tradespeople have been employed on the project in recent months. "They're doing very well," he said last month. "Our biggest challenge is the tight schedule, we have a long way to go in our last 14 weeks of the project, but we have a really good group of tradespeople pushing for us." The facility is scheduled to be complete Sept. 30.

Crumm said since the steel erection was completed last fall, the compressed schedule has had the trades "working on top of each other, while building inside and outside at the same time. Plus we had a cold winter and a wet spring. But everybody has looked out for each other, and everything has moved in the right direction. We're doing well."

Erected on a former parking lot, the site is a few blocks from the main campus of the project's partner, Henry Ford Hospital, and about two miles from where the Pistons play out their NBA schedule at Little Caesars Arena. 

“As a training facility, this will give us an edge, providing our players with the most advanced technology available to maximize their performance,” says Pistons owner Tom Gores. “But when you look at the whole development and the unique partnership with Henry Ford, it’s so much more. We are bringing more jobs into the city and creating another catalyst for additional investment. It will be another cornerstone in the revitalization of this community.”

The project prioritizes the needs of the Pistons players and staff. The team has its own parking, entrance and private areas in the building. Before the players even get to the basketball courts, they have access to a locker room and lounge, a full-service kitchen and dining facilities as well as a personal chef, a spacious weight room, film and study meeting rooms, and advanced training room capabilities with full hydro and cryogenic treatment systems.

The building will also include green space and courtyard locations for outside access and views of the city, a production studio and media/interview rooms, and event space for partner and season ticket holder meetings, events and entertaining.

When the Pistons front office employees occupy the new building, they will move from their current space at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which is set for demolition later this year. Prior to the Palace, the Pistons had played at the Pontiac Silverdome (1978-1988) and prior to that, Cobo Arena in Detroit. 

"When this opens in the fall, it obviously completes our move back to the city of Detroit," Grigg said. "And that has been one of our goals with building this facility, to create a publicly accessible space that benefits the community and our organization."

THE HENRY FORD Health System  Detroit Pistons Performance Center, whose construction is being managed by Christman/Brinker, is the latest addition to a growing neighborhood in Detroit’s New Center Area.

TILING THE HALLWAY to the shower area at the Pistons Performance Center is Nicole Hulme of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2. She’s employed by Artisan Tile.

OVER THE PLAYERS’ entrance to the Detroit Pistons Performance Center, electrician Kenny Skiles of IBEW Local 58 wires an exit light. He’s employed by Edgewood Electric.