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October 24, 1986 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-10-24

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AWItt•:':• •••

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Is Auburn Hills
a spectator's dream or
a catalyst for higher prices
and an urban-
suburban tug-of-war?


Special the The Jewish News

rom 1-75 drivers can see the
construction cranes above
the crimson treetops. Like
upturned pencils lazily
marking the sky, the cranes
sketch a quiet, unseen image in the
But at the work site the image
is clear and unephemeral. An arena
is being built. Concrete spires slowly
grow out of a deep crater and black
plumes of diesel exhaust erupt all
across the landscape. An army of
Caterpillars queue to scoop at the
earth, each taking a 35-ton bite in
its jawed underbelly.


In the next two years a
quarter-million yards of earth will
be reassigned, 250 workers will toil,
and more than $50 million will be
invested to create the Auburn Hills
Entertainment Center. And when it
is completed, not only will the land-
scape of the 61-acre site be resculp-
ted, but also the playing field for
neighboring arenas and
municipalities, and possibly the
entertainment-seeking public.
Construction on the arena, lo-
cated northwest of the 1-75 and
Lapeer Road interchange, began in
June. But long before the roar of the
earthmovers, the real movers began
their plan in quiet — the way it'll
probably remain.

We began thinking about it 18
months ago, and the idea matured
over time," says real estate de-
veloper David Hermelin. The "we"
also includes Hermelin's developer-
partner Robert Sosnick and William
Davidson, the principal owner of the
Detroit Pistons basketball team. The
three, reportedly companions in and
out of the business arena, have in-
corporated as Arena Associates, Inc.
which will own the Auburn Hills
"It started on the basketball
side," explains Hermelin. "The own-
ers of the (Detroit National Basket-
ball Association) franchise have al-
ways wanted to play in an arena.
And there was no arena in Oakland

County." Since leaving Cobo Arena
in 1977, the Pistons have played in
the 80,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome.
Although the cagers play in a sec-
tion created by drawing a one-and-
a-half ton curtain across the
stadium, Hermelin says the Pistons
want a smaller, more intimate
As the prime tenant, the Pistons
will get their smaller venue — a
20,000-seat arena which will also
feature special events and concerts.
But when Auburn Hills opens its
gates, the Detroit area will have
three arenas and the multi-purpose
Silverdome, and be the only city in
the nation where four professional
sports teams perform in separate

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