By Braden Hunter
Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons, in partnership with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, announced the completion of the first phase of basketball court refurbishments in parks throughout the city.
The initial courts are part of a $2.5 million-dollar investment by the Pistons to renovate and refurbish 60 basketball courts over the next six years. The project is one component of the community benefits plan created with the City of Detroit as part of the Pistons’ move back downtown in 2017.
“I’ve always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people,” said Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. “This parks program brings that to life in a very real way, creating more places for Detroiters of all ages to come together and play. It will also serve as a catalyst for more revitalization, creating a city-wide platform we can build on and use to bring other community-minded partners together.”
Six completed refurbishments include single basketball courts located at Algonquin-Goethe Park and Bennett Park, as well as double basketball courts located at Littlefield Park and Rouge Park.
By early 2019, an additional 20 courts will be refurbished at 11 other parks that include Optimist-Stout Park, Dequindre-Grixdale Park, 4th-Charlotte Park, Kelley Park, O’Hair Park, Adam Butzel Park, Palmer Park, Lasky Park, Maheras Park, Tolan Park, and Romanowski Park. The remaining 34 courts will be completed over the final four years, according to the Parks’ Department’s master plan.
Basketball court refurbishments at each location have included needed repairs to court surfaces, rims and stanchions. Additionally, each court has been repainted with proper basketball court markings and beautified to increase the aesthetic value of park. As part of the Pistons’ agreement, the City of Detroit will oversee maintenance for the completed courts.
Neighborhood residents and youth will now be able to play and enjoy the game of basketball on smooth playing surfaces with up-to-date basketball equipment.
In the coming months, the Pistons organization will introduce a new “Basketball for All” community initiative that will run concurrently with the six-year court refurbishment project. Tenants of the program will include providing basketballs to Detroit youth, encouraging participation and usage of refurbished courts and teaching the benefits of basketball.
“Renovating courts over the next six years is not where our commitment ends, but it’s just the beginning,” said Detroit Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem. “We look forward to launching our ‘Basketball for All’ initiative this spring as a program that will focus on activating the newly renovated courts, deploying our Pistons Academy program as a mechanism for teaching basketball skills and developing strategies for programming that addresses health and fitness, mentoring, education and equality.”
Support for the court refurbishment program builds on significant philanthropic investments Gores and the Detroit Pistons Foundation have already made in Detroit through partnerships with organizations like Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the Detroit Police Athletic League, the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park, City Year Detroit, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Sphinx Program, Dave Bing’s BINGO Mentoring Program, the Jalen Rose Youth Leadership Academy and Forgotten Harvest.
Mayor Duggan views the beginning of the court refurbishment project as an important milestone in continued fulfillment of the community benefits agreement between the Detroit Pistons and the City of Detroit and an opportunity to increase basketball participation and promote further utilization of city parks.
“When the Pistons moved back to Detroit, we knew it was going to have a great positive impact on our city, but we also wanted to make sure the benefits were felt by the entire city, not just downtown,” said Duggan. “Through the community benefits agreement with the Pistons, we’re seeing investments in neighborhoods and we’re seeing improvements in parks all across the city for the youth of Detroit.”
The community benefits agreement included a 10-point plan that creates jobs and brings millions of dollars of investment into Detroit neighborhoods.
Under the plan approved by the project’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, the Pistons organization agreed to:
Invest $2,500,000 over six years in the construction, renovation and refurbishment of more than 60 basketball courts in parks throughout the City of Detroit in partnership with the City of Detroit’s Recreation department, be in compliance with Detroit’s Executive Order 2016-1 on hiring residents and funding workforce training, use commercially reasonable efforts to maximize post-construction employment opportunities with PS&E for City Residents, support workforce development initiatives for City Residents by donating $100,000 to Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, partner with the Mayor’s Office to provide mentorship opportunities for young city Residents, participate in the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer jobs program, host free youth basketball camps, clinics, and other events for city residents to promote youth basketball and youth enrichment programs in the city, and provide 20,000 free tickets per regular season to Detroit youth and residents to attend NBA basketball games, in support of and in connection with community educational programs and initiatives.
This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.