|Address||6 Championship Drive|
|Location||Auburn Hills, Michigan|
|Operator||Palace Sports and Entertainment|
Ice hockey: 20,804
Concerts: 6,000 to 24,276
|Broke ground||June 7, 1986|
|Opened||August 13, 1988|
|Closed||October 12, 2017|
|Construction cost||$90 million
($182 million in 2016 dollars)
|Project manager||Frank Rewold and Sons|
|Structural engineer||McClerg & Associates Inc.|
|General contractor||R.E. Dailey & Company|
|Detroit Pistons (NBA) (1988–2017)
Detroit Vipers (IHL) (1994–2001)
Detroit Safari (CISL) (1994–1997)
Detroit Whalers (OHL) (1995–1996)
Detroit Rockers (NPSL) (1997–2000)
Detroit Shock (WNBA) (1998–2009)
Detroit Fury (AFL) (2001–2004)
The Palace of Auburn Hills, commonly referred to as The Palace, is a defunct multi-purpose arena located in Auburn Hills, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit. It served as the home of the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Detroit Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League, the Detroit Safari of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, and the Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League.
From 1957 to 1978, the Pistons competed in Detroit's Olympia Stadium, Memorial Building, and Cobo Arena. In 1978, owner Bill Davidson elected not to share the new Joe Louis Arena with the Detroit Red Wings, and instead chose to relocate the team to the Pontiac Silverdome, a venue constructed for football, where they remained for the next decade. While the Silverdome could accommodate massive crowds, it offered substandard sight lines for basketball viewing. In late 1985, a group led by Davidson decided to build a new arena in Auburn Hills. Groundbreaking for the arena took place in June 1986. Using entirely private funding, The Palace cost a relatively low price of $90 million. The Davidson family held a controlling interest in the arena until Tom Gores bought it as part of his purchase of the Pistons in 2011.
The Palace opened in 1988. When one of The Palace's basketball occupants won a championship, the number on its address changed. Its current address is 6 Championship Drive, reflecting the Pistons' three NBA titles and the Detroit Shock's three WNBA titles (the Detroit Vipers' 1997 Turner Cup championship has not been officially recognized in the arena's address; the address also remained unchanged despite the Shock's move to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010; they moved to Dallas, Texas in 2016, and are now known as the Dallas Wings). The original address was 3777 Lapeer Road.
Michael Jackson performed three consecutive sold–out shows, during his Bad World Tour on October 24–26, 1988, in front of 70,000 people, becoming the first music artist to sell out The Palace more than two nights in a row.
Grand Funk Railroad performed a benefit show for the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 1997 during their Reunion Tour. The show also featured Peter Frampton, Alto Reed, Paul Shaffer, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The performance was recorded, and released as the double-live Bosnia album in October of that year.
The Palace was the site of an assassination attempt on Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, while he was on tour, with former band mate Robert Plant, during their No Quarter Tour. On March 31, 1995, Lance Alworth Cunningham, a 23-year-old, who thought that Led Zeppelin music contained "satanic messages", tried rushing the stage with a knife. He waited until the song "Kashmir" started and then made his charge for the stage, waving the weapon. The man was tackled by patrons and security about 50 feet from the stage.
Madonna performed two sold–out shows during her Drowned World Tour on August 25–26, 2001. The shows were recorded and broadcast live on HBO and were later released as a DVD, entitled Drowned World Tour 2001.
The Palace played host to the politically motivated Vote for Change Tour on October 3, 2004, featuring performances by My Morning Jacket, Jurassic 5, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and headliner The Dave Matthews Band, with unannounced guest Neil Young.
On November 19, 2004, a fight broke–out between members of the NBA's Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. As the on-court fight died down, a fan threw a cup of Diet Coke at Pacers forward Ron Artest, who then rushed into the crowd, sparking a melee between players and spectators. The fight resulted in the suspension of nine players, criminal charges against five players, and criminal charges against five spectators. The offending fans were banned from attending games at The Palace. In the aftermath of the fight, the NBA decided to increase the security presence between players and spectators. The fact that the fight took place at The Palace of Auburn Hills led to it becoming colloquially referred to as "Malice at the Palace" and "Basketbrawl".
The Palace was also the site of a brawl between the WNBA's Shock and Sparks on July 21, 2008.
In October 2016, it was reported that the Pistons' ownership were negotiating a possible relocation to Little Caesars Arena, a new multi-purpose venue located in Midtown Detroit built by Olympia Entertainment to replace Joe Louis Arena as home of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, as soon as the 2017–18 season. On November 22, 2016, the team officially announced that the Pistons would play at Little Caesars Arena in 2017. The final NBA game at The Palace was played on April 10, 2017, with the Pistons losing to the Washington Wizards, 105-101. That game ended a 42-year history of professional sports in Oakland County, dating back to the Detroit Lions' first game at the nearby Pontiac Silverdome in 1975.
On August 24, 2017, it was announced that Bob Seger would hold the final concert at the venue on September 23, 2017. The last scheduled event at the venue was the Taste of Auburn Hills on October 12, 2017. Palace Sports & Entertainment entered into a joint venture with Olympia known as 313 Presents to jointly manage entertainment bookings and promotions for Little Caesars Arena and other venues owned by the firms.
The Palace, despite being 29 years old at its closure, was still in top condition as a sporting and concern venue. However it was located in suburbia of "enclosed malls and stadiums plopped in a sea of asphalt parking" which was in decline, in the face of the growing trend of "walkable urbanism" where the Pistons wanted to grow their fanbase. The Palace is expected to be demolished, where it will be redeveloped to accomodate new auto-supplier headquarters and research and development parks.
Then-Pistons owner William Davidson and two developers privately financed the $90 million construction of The Palace, and did not require public funds.
The Palace was built with 180 luxury suites, considered an exorbitant number when it opened, but it has consistently managed to lease virtually all of them. In December 2005, the Palace added five underground luxury suites, each containing 450 square feet (42 m2) of space and renting for $450,000 per year. Eight more luxury suites, also located below arena level, were opened in February 2006. They range in size from 800 to 1,200 square feet (74 to 111 m2) and rent for $350,000 annually. The architectural design of the Palace, including its multiple tiers of luxury suites, has been used as the basis for many other professional sports arenas in North America since its construction, including the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, also designed by Rossetti Associates.
The Palace was widely considered to be the first of the modern-style NBA arenas, and its large number of luxury suites was a major reason for the building boom of new NBA arenas in the 1990s. Although the Palace got to be one of the oldest arenas in the NBA, its foresighted design contained the amenities that most NBA teams have sought in new arenas built since that time. By contrast, of the other NBA venues that opened in 1988-89, Amway Arena, Charlotte Coliseum, and Miami Arena have been demolished, while the Bradley Center and Sleep Train Arena are either slated for replacement or already replaced but standing. All of these arenas were rendered obsolete by the lack of luxury suites and club seating, lucrative revenue-generating features that made pro sports teams financially successful in order to remain competitive long-term, and also being located in suburban rather than downtown areas (The Palace, however, remained one of the successful suburban arenas).
Nonetheless, Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) had spent $117.5 million in upgrades and renovations to keep the arena updated. A new High-Definition JumboTron monitor, new LED video monitors, and more than 950 feet (290 m) of ribbon display technology from Daktronics was installed in the mid-2000s.
The Pistons court was previously named the "William Davidson Court", in honor of the late owner, prior to the home opener on October 28, 2009; however, Davidson's signature, along with the retired numbers, were removed from the hardwood when Tom Gores took over ownership of the Palace, and were re-retired instead atop the Palace rafters as replacement banners.
By the time it closed as an NBA venue, the Palace was one of only two arenas which had not sold its naming rights to a corporate sponsor. The other was Madison Square Garden. The Palace was one of eight basketball arenas owned by their respective NBA franchises.
In 2008, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the arena, it was announced that The Palace would be raising banners to the ceiling for musical acts that have had multiple sold-out shows at venues owned by Palace Sports & Entertainment. Bon Jovi was the first to get a banner, in February, followed by Neil Diamond, in July. In addition, these artists received banners outside the building on lightpoles along with other members of Palace Sports & Entertainment's most attended acts, including Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Dave Matthews Band, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Barenaked Ladies, Van Halen, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Tim McGraw, Jimmy Buffett and Britney Spears.
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