The board of governors at US-based Wayne State University (WSU) has unanimously approved plans to build a $25m arena for Wayne State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
To be situated on the west side of its athletic complex, the basketball facility would bring a Detroit Pistons NBA G League team to the city. WSU’s men’s and women’s teams would also play at the arena.
The arena is to be paid for by $20m in bonds and $5m through philanthropic dollars and naming rights. It is expected to open for the 2021-2022 basketball season.
The plan includes the construction of a 70,000ft² arena near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues. The facility will have a seating capacity for approximately 3,000 people, office space, locker room areas, a concessions area and ancillary spaces.
WSU board of governors chair Kim Trent said: “Our outstanding student-athletes have played basketball at Wayne State for a century, but never in an arena facility designed for basketball.
“I am thrilled that they will soon have the best amenities around. A special thanks to Governor Sandy Hughes-O’Brien, who has been a passionate proponent of this project.”
Matthaei Center was constructed in 1965 as part of the city’s bid to bring the 1968 Olympics to Detroit, and has hosted the Wayne State basketball games for more than 50 of the programme’s 100 years.
WSU did not sponsor women’s athletic programmes at the time of the construction and it currently lacks the infrastructure for proper accommodation of its athletic teams, as well as additional student activities.
The new facility is expected to more than double the 1,131 seating capacity of Matthaei’s main gym.
The new arena is also expected to place the Wayne State University athletic programme in a stronger position within the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Combined with the Matthaei Center, WSU will have two facilities for intramural athletic participation.
The Detroit Pistons has entered a basketball partnership to support Wayne State to maximise use of the new facility.
The partnership will include bringing an NBA G League Affiliate to Detroit, which will play its home games in the new arena.
The Detroit Pistons will use the new facility for an affiliated NBA Gatorade League team that would play 20 or more games there a season under a 30-year lease with an option to extend.
It will also work with Wayne State officials to host Pistons summer camps and clinics, in addition to MHSAA state high school games, AAU games and other basketball tournaments in the new arena.