Wayne State University’s $25 million arena for its men’s and women’s basketball teams will be ready for play in the 2021-22 basketball season.
The university says the new arena will be a game changer that will place its athletic program in a stronger position within the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and positively impacting the entire student body.
The plan, approved by the Board of Governors, includes construction of a 70,000-square-foot arena near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues with seating capacity for approximately 3,000 fans, office space and locker room areas for both WSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, a concessions area, and other ancillary spaces.
“Our outstanding student-athletes have played basketball at Wayne State for a century, but never in an arena facility designed for basketball,” says Kim Trent, chair of WSU Board of Governors. “I am thrilled that they will soon have the best amenities around.”
The Detroit Pistons are supporting Wayne State’s efforts to maximize use of the new facility and is working to bring an NBA G League Affiliate to Detroit, which will play its home games in the new arena. The organization will also work with Wayne State officials to host Pistons summer camps and clinics, possible MHSAA state high school games, AAU games and other basketball tournaments in the new arena.
The G League serves as the NBA’s developmental league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office staff for NBA positions while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.
As another key aspect of the partnership, the Pistons intend to work with the university to create academic programming and internship opportunities for Wayne State students in areas such as sports marketing, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and sports and entertainment business operations. The goal is to establish real-world work experience opportunities for those interested in careers within the sports industry
“The fans of Wayne State basketball have waited a long time for this announcement and its promise for the university, our students and our basketball programs,” says Rob Fournier, Wayne State University director of athletics. “Our partnership with the Pistons will be transformational, from our shared association to the means to advance more opportunities in the Matthaei Building for our campus, to creating a basketball setting that underscores a mutual objective to make Detroit a basketball destination.”
For more than 50 of the program’s 100 years, Wayne State basketball games have been played in the Matthaei Center, which was constructed in 1965 as part of the city’s bid to bring the 1968 Olympics to Detroit. Back then Wayne State did not sponsor any women’s athletic programs and today lacks the infrastructure to properly accommodate all of its athletic teams and the increase in additional student activities.
Seating capacity in the new facility will more than double the current 1,131 capacity of Matthaei’s main gym.
Combined with the Matthaei Center, the university will now have two facilities for intramural athletic participation, creating increased scheduling flexibility and growth opportunities for the school’s intramural sports programming.
“We are excited about the opportunities that will be created for our student-athletes and our greater student body with the addition of this new venue and a great partnership with the Detroit Pistons,” says WSU President M. Roy Wilson. “One of the overlooked advantages of attending Wayne State is the opportunity to get practical experience with great businesses in our community such as the Detroit Pistons. With this new partnership, the opportunities will prove even richer.”