The univesity says the plan calls for construction of a 70,000-square-foot arena near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues with seating capacity for about 3,000 fans, office space and locker room areas for both men’s and women’s basketball teams, a concessions area, and other ancillary spaces. The arena will be ready for play in the 2021-22 basketball season.
“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 the Wayne State Board of Governors. “I am thrilled that they will soon have the best amenities around.”
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. At the time of the center’s construction, 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.
The Detroit Pistons basketball team is supporting Wayne State’s efforts. It will bring an NBA G League developmental team to Detroit, and it will play its home games in the new arena. The Pistons also will work with Wayne State to host summer camps and clinics, possible state high school games, AAU games and other basketball tournaments in the new arena.
The Pistons also 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 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 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.”