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Palace of Auburn Hills
Palace of Auburn Hills
Image of the Palace of Auburn Hills by Cory Suppes of Ballparks.com

  Venue Resources  
Address 5 Championship Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone (248) 377-0100
Official Website
Seating Weather
Newspaper
Satellite View
Pistons Gear
  Calendar / Tickets  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Detroit

  The Facility  
Opened 1988
Ownership
(Management)
William Davidson
(Palace Sports and Entertainment)
Cost of Construction $70 million
Arena Financing Privately financed by bank loan and equity contribution by team ownership.
Arena Architects Rossetti Associates/Architects Planners
General
Contractors /
Construction Managers
Frank Rewold and Son
Patron Entrances Four entry points.
12 Turnstiles
  7 - West Entrance
  2 - North Entrance
  2 - East Entrance
  1 - The Palace Grille
  Other Facts  
Tenants Detroit Pistons (NBA)
1988-Present
Detroit Shock (WNBA)
1988-Present
Former Tenants Detroit Vipers (IHL)
1994-2001
Detroit Safari (CISL)
19941997
Detroit Rockers (NPSL)
1997-2000
Detroit Fury (AFL)
2001-2004
Population Base 8,000,000
On Site Parking 8,400
Nearest Airport Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW)
Retired Numbers #00 William Davidson
#2 Chuck Daly
#4 Joe Dumars
#11 Isiah Thomas
#15 Vinnie Johnson
#16 Bob Lanier
#21 Dave Bing
#40 Bill Laimbeer
Number of Events Approximately 175 events per year.
Box Office 20 Total
  12 - Intrior
  8 - Exterior

Championships 1st

1989
2nd

1990
3rd

2004

  Seating  
Capacity 22,076
Average Ticket $36.75
(2005-2006)
$47.50
(2007-2008)
Fan Cost Index (FCI) $241.00
(2005-2006)
$282.00
(2007-2008)
The Team Marketing Report FCI includes: four average-price tickets; four small soft drinks; two small beers; four hot dogs; two game programs; parking; and two adult-size caps.
Luxury Suites 180 Suites
Club Seats 1,000
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1992-93 879,614 100% 0%
1993-94 785,187 89% -10.7%
1994-95 719,090 82% -8.4%
1995-96 730,573 83% 1.6%
1996-97 820,585 93% 12.3%
1997-98 794,567 90% -3.2%
1998-99 444,585 83% -44.1%
1999-00 678,470 77% 52.6%
2000-01 607,323 67.1% 10.5%

2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
760,807 839,278 872,902 905,119

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
883,040 905,116 905,116 896,971

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
768,826 683,080 475,638 606,094

1998-1999 - Attendance for 25 games due to NBA lockout.
2011-2012 - Attendance for 33 games due to NBA lockout.

Sources: Mediaventures

Team
The Pistons were established in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1941 - 42 and played in the National Basketball League through the 1947-48 season (no games played in 1944-45 because of WW II). In 1948-49, the Pistons joined the Basketball Association of America for one season and in 1949-50 became a member of the National Basketball Association. The Pistons moved from Fort Wayne to Detroit for the 1957-58 season. The NBA Board of Governors approved the move on April 17, 1957.

Facility
Starting with the 1988-89 season, the Pistons began play in The Palace of Auburn Hills. Previously, the Pistons played for 10 seasons in the Pontiac Silverdome. From the 1957-58 to the 1960-61 seasons they played their games at Olympia Stadium and the University of Detroit Fieldhouse. On March 12, 1960 the Pistons scheduled a playoff game at the Grosse Pointe High School gym when no other facility was available. From 1961-62 through 1977-78, the Pistons called Cobo Arena home. On April 27, 1984 the Pistons played Game 5 of the playoffs in Joe Louis Arena. After a collapse of the Silverdome roof, the Pistons finished the 1985-86 season at Joe Louis Arena (one game at Cobo), totaling 15 games. The Pistons have now played home games in seven different buildings since moving to Detroit.

RESTAURANT AND HOSPITALITY
The Palace Grille offers elegant dining for up to 250 patrons with a lounge area providing an intimate location for cocktails and refreshments before or after events.

The Palace Club as well as the Terrace Club both accommodate up to 300 patrons. All facilities feature extensive menus including beef, poultry, seafood and dessert specialties prepared by award-winning restaurateurs Machus Management Services.

CONCESSIONS
Points of Purchase: More than 70 service points throughout the venue.
Concession stands located throughout the concourse.

A hand-held computerized ordering system is provided for patrons courtside at Pistons games.

PRODUCTION
Moving grid system allows pre-rigging of stage lighting and sound equipment to be fastened at stage level, with electronic hoists raising the production apparatus to its proper height. It substantially reduces normal set-up and tear-down time, climbing requirements and rigging costs.

PALACEVISION
Features four 9'x 12' color video screens and is suspended in the center of the arena.

Directions to the Palace of Auburn Hills
(From Metro Airport) Exit airport heading north on Merriman Road, to I-94 East. Exit onto Southfield Freeway North. Proceed on freeway north to I-696 East. Take I-696 East to I-75 North. From I-75 North, take Exit 81 (Lapeer Road). Make right on Lapeer Road, heading north. The Palace is on the immediate left.

Interior

THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell

Palace of Auburn Hills Ranking by USRT
Architecture 4.5
Concessions 4.5
Scoreboard 4.5
Ushers 6
Fan Support 8
Location 2.5
Banners/History 7
Entertainment 7
Concourses/Fan Comfort 5.5
Bonus: Concourse Museum 3
Bonus: Live Band 3
Bonus: Jim Rome Tour Stop 1
Total Score 56.5
April 16, 2000 - The Palace of Auburn Hills was opened in 1988 to be the new home of the NBA Detroit Pistons, this after several years of playing in the cavernous Pontiac Silverdome and before that the decrepit Cobo Hall. Since that time the Palace has become home to the IHL Detroit Vipers (until they folded when the "I" went out of business), the WNBA Detroit Shock and the AFL Detroit Fury. Like its football counterpart, the Palace sits out in the middle of nowhere and far away from downtown Detroit.

There isn't truly a main entrance, however there are four sparkling entrances to the building - one on each side. On the north side entrance is a large team store tucked in under a grand staircase, and also a huge video wall showing out of town games from all the sports.

The single concourse encircling the arena is brightly lit and well decorated with many concession stands and exhibits. The centerpiece of this concourse has to be the Hall of Fame and Museum displaying memorabilia that were from great events that were held at the Palace. Not only could one view the artifacts from the Pistons glory days at the time the building opened, there were also super exhibits from other teams, such as the IHL Vipers' run to the Turner Cup, and many great exhibits from plenty of superstar musicians who have performed at the Palace. Along side this were tributes to the greatest basketball players to wear the Pistons jersey.

The Bowl
The arena is split into two levels with seating for close to 21,000, with some suites between the levels and in the midst of the lower level.  The seats are of a lavender color which gives a nice feel to the place. A jumbotron hangs over midcourt and ads are abound on the concrete rail that separates the two levels. To perk things up a bit there is a live jazz band performing from a perch above the upper level, a unique touch in the style of Detroit's Motown musical tradition.

Retired Numbers/Banners
The Pistons have a long and storied history dating back all the way to its origins in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There are banners celebrating the Pistons division and conference titles and of course two banners for their two NBA titles in 1989+1990. The Pistons also retired the numbers of many of their best players of the past such as Thomas, Laimbeer, Dumars, Johnson, Lanier, and Bing. In a classy move the number 2 is retired in honor of Coach Chuck Daly, who was at the bench during the Pistons glory years. Not to be forgotten, the IHL Vipers also have their banners celebrating their great moments including the 1994 Turner Cup championship.

Extra Points
Like the Tigers earlier that day, the Pistons went down to defeat against the Pacers. On our way out the door we caught the final minutes of Game 3 of the Sabres/Flyers playoff series and watched as our beloved Sabres season went into the crapper. An all around crummy day for everyone involved!!!

Summary
This building is nice and has weathered well amidst the building boom of arenas that has occurred in today's day and age. We would have liked to have seen more to do in the surrounding neighborhood and/or inside the building with respect to restaurants and shops and the like. A very enjoyable experience nonetheless!!!

PISTONS, RED WINGS MAY SHARE NEW ARENA
January 21, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Detroit, Mich. - The Detroit News says the owners of the Red Wings and Pistons are discussing the possibility of sharing a new arena.

Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners of the Red Wings, have not renewed their lease at Joe Louis Arena beyond this season, and face more than $10 million in structural repair at the arena if the team is to play there next season.

The Ilitches have been looking for a temporary home while they sort out, if, when, where and how they might build a new arena in downtown Detroit.

The Wings and Palace Sports and Entertainment, overseers of The Palace, have been working on a lease agreement for more than a year. The Ilitches toured The Palace in December 2008. The Palace submitted a five-year lease offer to the Ilitches, who made a counteroffer - presumably for fewer years.

In the meantime, Pistons owner Karen Davidson is reportedly considering selling the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment. She already has had a conversation with NBA commissioner David Stern on the process and protocol for attracting potential buyers. Once she sells, there would be nothing keeping the Pistons at The Palace.

That has led to talk about the Ilitches making an offer to buy the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment. The reports say while the Ilitches might be interested in The Palace, there is no interest in buying the Pistons.

DETROIT COUNTIES SQUARE OFF OVER TEAMS
March 18, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Detroit, Mich. - If Detroit Mayor Dave Bing wants to bring the Pistons back to Detroit, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says that opens the bidding for his county to lure the Red Wings to the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The issue comes up at the Red Wings work to decide whether to build a new arena or renovate Joe Louis Arena. The team's lease expires in June.

"I don't like the idea," said Patterson. "In any sense, I call that poaching. I thought we're all supposed to be regional players but that's not developing good relationships when you deliberately" try and lure the Auburn Hills-based team to Detroit.

Even so, Patterson said he's ramping up efforts to move the Red Wings from Joe Louis Arena to the Pistons' home, The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Patterson said "we're opening negotiations this afternoon" and phoned Tom Wilson, the Pistons executive who recently joined Ilitch Holdings, the Wings' parent company and is the team's point person for finding a new area. Wilson didn't phone back, Patterson said.

Patterson said he could see the Wings playing at The Palace with the Pistons indefinitely, adding, "we'll take them out here for six years." Wings officials haven't ruled out a temporary move to the Palace as a new downtown arena is negotiated.

The flap began when Bing told a group of media executives he wants the Pistons to move back to the city in hopes that a new city arena would be constructed to hold both the Pistons and Red Wings.

ILITCHES INTERESTED IN PISTONS, POSSIBLY NEW ARENA
August 12, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Detroit, Mich. - The Ilitch family has issued a statement that they are interested in acquiring the NBA Pistons, leading to further speculation that the two teams could end up in a new arena, according to the Detroit News.

"When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn't see how we could let that happen," Ilitch, who presides over a domain that includes Little Caesars Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers and Olympia Entertainment, told the News.

A new facility is a high priority for the Red Wings, given the age and sparse amenities of Joe Louis Arena, the newspaper said.

If the Ilitches complete the deal, they would be among the few owners of three major sports franchises in the same market. H. Wayne Huizenga owned the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins in Miami simultaneously, and Time-Warner owned the Braves, Hawks and Thrashers in Atlanta.

The sale of the Pistons - and the Palace Sports & Entertainment Group - remains a long-term enterprise, and there are likely to be competitors in the bidding. But there would be considerable synergies for the Ilitches, according to the News.

Expanding their stable of sports properties in Michigan would provide the Ilitch family with control of local broadcasting in all three major sports, a vital source of revenue amid the diminishing returns for owning teams, the newspaper said. The only other programming not under the aegis of network broadcasts in Detroit would be the radio contract for the Detroit Lions.

Such broadly based holdings could support a new regional sports broadcaster, wholly owned by the Ilitches. At the very least, it would dramatically improve their position to negotiate with Fox when contracts with Fox Sports Detroit expire, according to the News.

The Ilitches' Olympia Entertainment competes with Palace Sports & Entertainment for much of the major concert and popular music entertainment in southeastern Michigan. Folding those interests into one enterprise would increase profitability and achieve downsizing amid a declining economy and population, it was reported.

While both teams could play in separate arenas for some time before the new construction, Jimmy Devellano, the senior vice president of the Red Wings, told the News that the Ilitches would never move the Red Wings out of Detroit.

"The Ilitch family's commitment to downtown Detroit has been pretty clear," said Devellano, citing the construction of Comerica Park and Foxtown, and success with the Wings in downtown Detroit.

The sentiment was echoed by Ilitch: "The Pistons, just like the Red Wings, Tigers and the Lions, have a rich and storied tradition in this community, and they've brought pride to fans and our community," said Ilitch.

The Detroit Free Press said a lot of the impact of a new arena might depend on where exactly it might be built. The Ilitches own land behind their Fox Theatre on the northern edge of downtown, and that site has been the subject of intense speculation about a new arena. Real estate insiders also have suggested to the newspaper the Ilitches might prefer to build a new arena near the MotorCity Casino off West Grand River, which Marian Ilitch owns.

A third possibility would be to build a new arena where the aging Joe Louis Arena, home of the Red Wings, stands now. But that would require finding a new home for the Wings for at least two seasons while the Joe was demolished and rebuilt. The Wings plan to play the 2010-11 season at the Joe as talks continue with the city about their home, according to the Free Press.

The Pistons and their parent organization, Palace Sports & Entertainment, went up for sale this year following the death of owner Bill Davidson at 86 in March 2009. The team plays at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a venue that was privately financed.

The News said two other bidders are in the race, although their identities were not disclosed.

The bids for the team are expected to be in the range of $300 million to $400 million, sources told the News. If the tenders are closer to the $400 million mark, it would be good news for both the Pistons and NBA. Analysts with knowledge of ownership deals in the NBA and other leagues told the newspaper that the economy in Michigan weighs against Karen Davidson, the widow of late Pistons owner Bill Davidson, getting a purchase price close to the value of the team, which is estimated at about $470 million.

Others told the News the deal makes so much sense for the Ilitches that the public statement of their interest might ward off others.

ARENA FOR PISTONS, WINGS ESTIMATED AT $500 MILLION
October 7, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Detroit, Mich. - Mike Ilitch, owner of Detroit's Tigers and Red Wings, has submitted the highest bid for purchase of the NBA Pistons from Palace Sports and Entertainment, according to the Detroit News. The undisclosed bid, thought to be more than $400 million, gives Ilitch a 30-day exclusive window to close the deal, according to the newspaper.

If successful, the purchase would make Ilitch the only person in America to own three top pro franchises. It would also give him a control of Detroit's entertainment venues. The Red Wings were already considering a new arena, the acquisition would mean the new venue would likely be built to accommodate both teams.

City of Detroit and Ilitch Holdings officials told the News they are bound by confidentially agreements not to talk about details of a possible new arena.

The newspaper said three locations are considered likely prospects to host the venue. One is a cluster of blocks west of the Fox Theatre complex, the Woodward Avenue headquarters for Ilitch Holdings Inc. The area stretches toward Grand Circus Park and Grand River, where the Ilitches have bought parcels through the years.

Another is a blighted stretch of the Cass Corridor, where there has been a series of high-priced land acquisitions. Local developer Joel Landy was involved in one of the deals and signed a confidentiality agreement, the newspaper reported.

The other rumored site is near the MotorCity Casino. It's unclear how much - if any - of that property is controlled by the Ilitches or the city.

If the sale were to include Palace Sports & Entertainment, which programs The Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Music Festival, it would give Ilitch control of Detroit's top concert venues.

In 2009, PS&E sold a reported 1.08 million tickets, according to Pollstar magazine, which tracks the concert industry. That made the company the No. 14 concert promoter in the world, and No. 8 in the U.S.

Ilitch's Olympia Entertainment, meanwhile, which books Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Arena, the Fox Theatre and the Masonic Temple, sold a reported 154,000 tickets in 2009, making it the world's No. 74 concert promoter, according to Pollstar.

Combining the two ventures would give Ilitch control of most of the area's concert venues.

PISTONS SOLD; TEAM EXPECTED TO REMAIN AT PALACE
April 14, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Detroit, Mich. - Tom Gores has purchased the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit News says will keep the team at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the "foreseeable future."

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson told the News he is pleased and that Palace officials assured him that the team would stay in Auburn Hills.

The Detroit Free Press said the sale includes Palace Sports & Entertainment and its assets - the Pistons, the Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre and the operating rights to Meadow Brook Music Festival.

Gores, 46 and who grew up in Flint, is expected to pay significantly less for the franchise and the Palace Sports & Entertainment properties than the $420 million the NBA was hoping the business would attract. But the announced price may well be in the $400 million range, the News said.

The terms were not revealed. The agreement is subject to approval by the NBA, which will begin considering it this week. The deal is not expected to be final until closer to June 30.

Having made himself a billionaire twice over, buying companies cheaply and improving the management in hopes of increasing revenue and profits, Gores now turns his attention to improving the Pistons.

Observers told the News his track record may make him a good owner, as long as he is willing to spend. But some in business and sports say they expect him to attempt to spend wisely, but not lavishly in some attempt for immediate success.

"I would like to congratulate Tom Gores on the announcement of his agreement to purchase the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Davidson family on the pending sale of their businesses," Mike Ilitch, who with his family bid on the team, told the News. "We are very pleased that the Pistons will continue to call the Detroit area home."

Gores became the top bidder for the team in December, after Mike and Marian Ilitch and their family negotiated exclusively for 30 days. The News said Ilitch Holdings Inc. lowered its original bid, which reportedly was $420 million, to $360 million, after a long review of financial information. The diligence was exercised, in part, by one of the Ilitches' recent hires, Tom Wilson, formerly the chief executive officer of Palace Sports & Entertainment.

Mike Ilitch said in August that he had bid on the professional basketball franchise in part out of concerns that it might leave Michigan. The Ilitches are also considering whether to build a new arena for their NHL Red Wings.

October 6, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Palace of Auburn Hills officials were quick to back away from reports this week that they are seeking a naming rights sponsor even thought they have hired Wasserman Media Group to align The Palace with corporate partners. "We are not specifically looking for a naming-rights partner," president Dennis Mannion told the Detroit News. "We like The Palace name. That's not the intention of Wasserman. We're looking for the potential for a strategic partnership to see if we can better our fan experience."

Fort Wayne Pistons / Detroit Pistons

North Side High
North Side High
1948-1952
Memorial Coliseum
Memorial Coliseum

1952-1957
Olympia Stadium
Olympia Stadium

1957-1961
Cobo Arena
Cobo Arena

1961-1978
Silverdome
Silverdome

1978-1988
Palace of Auburn Hills
Palace of Auburn Hills

1988-Present


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