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Moving to downtown arena is the least of the Pistons worries

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press:

The allure’s gone. Every home game with three quarters of the Palace empty represents another harsh reminder that the Pistons must get out of there and return to downtown Detroit in a shared new arena arrangement with the Red Wings as quickly as possible.

Why would playing downtown make any difference?

It’s about habit. It’s about familiarity. The market the Pistons court is now more comfortable spending their time and disposable entertainment dollars downtown than they were 20 years ago — even if Auburn Hills is a closer destination.

I love Detroit. It would be cool to see the Pistons play downtown … if they didn’t have a great facility that is paid for and still one of the best in the league (and getting better, considering the upgrades being made there). This country has gone crazy with stadium-building, many of them at significant cost to taxpayers. I can’t speak for the Red Wings because I don’t follow hockey and, other than going to Monday Night Raw a couple of times when I was a teenager, don’t really know much about Joe Louis as a facility. But the Palace is completely fine. A new arena for the Pistons would be an unnecessary extravagance.

Poor attendance at the Palace has zero to do with where the arena was located. It has everything to do with a bad, boring product being put on the floor over the last four years. As the Pistons organization proved not too long ago when they were perennially among the league’s attendance leaders, if you put a good product on the floor, the building will be full every night.


  • Nov 30, 201210:28 am
    by Matt


    I work in downtown Detroit and live downriver so, yeah, I’d like to see a downtown arena for the Pistons. I don’t have a lot of interest in going all the way up to Auburn Hills to see a game, although I might go up for a couple of games considering how easy it is to get good seats at a really cheap price (friends at work told me they saw seats one row behind the Pistons bench going for 40 bucks).

    That being said, the Palace would be full if the Pistons were putting out a championship-caliber team. The Palace was built 25 years ago. The “allure” had worn off a long time before they were selling out hundreds of games in a row during the mid-2000s during the run of ECF appearances.

    A new stadium might bring in a few more fans, but it’s not worth it. Unless Gores is going to foot the entire bill. And why would he, considering that he just bought a nice arena that he’s spent a lot of money in upgrading.

    If Ilitch had bought the Pistons, I could see a joint Red Wings/Pistons arena being built downtown. As of now, though, I can’t imagine it will happen.

  • Nov 30, 201210:55 am
    by Steve K


    Don’t the fans in Detroit already have a team (the Lakers)?

    • Nov 30, 20126:29 pm
      by Nate R


      The Lakers?? This isn’t Asif is it…..

  • Nov 30, 201211:02 am
    by pistons morbidung


    What…….Drew has been hitting the pipe again.  Hey, Kwame called, he knows a great contractor to get the job done, and its free.

  • Nov 30, 201211:03 am
    by Travis


    When I lived in Grand Rapids, the commute to Auburn Hills was much more friendly than downtown Detroit. The only problem buying tickets for Pistons games in September for Jan-Feb games was the fear of a winter storm on gameday.  With that being said, my favorite games that I had marked off on my calendar were the Ben Wallace bobble head nights. Hell, I even paid $35 twice for BW bobble head dolls on EBay, because I couldn’t make those games. 

  • Nov 30, 201211:07 am
    by countryboycansurvive


    id rather go to the palace than have to go downtown

  • Nov 30, 201211:08 am
    by countryboycansurvive


    id like to spit a little beechnut in drew sharp’s eye

  • Nov 30, 201211:26 am
    by MIKEYDE248


    I get so sick of the media talking about how great it would be for the Pistons to move back down town.  If it would be so great, why are all the people moving out of the down town area.  The population has been on the decline for years

    Maybe the Pacers fans should all be complaining that the only thing keeping them from selling out all their game is that they need to move to Gary?

    I was bummed out when the Lions moved out of the Silverdome, just because I don’t want to drive down town.  I would have been all in favor of moving the Red Wings up to the Palace also.

    With a good team and coach, people will come back to the Palace

  • Nov 30, 201211:58 am
    by Scott Free


    We have a lot of fair-weather fans in Michigan.  They’ll obsess over the Lions for an entire generation of losing teams, but 5 or so lousy Pistons seasons and we’re ready to sell the team to another state  (remind me how many other franchises have won titles in the last 20 or so years — certainly not the Lions.)

    That said, what are they going to rename 6 championship drive again. 

    • Nov 30, 201212:30 pm
      by MIKEYDE248


      It all goes back to the team, not the location.  The Tigers were one of the lowest teams in attendance only a few years ago.  Now that they have a good team, people are going to games.

  • Nov 30, 201212:10 pm
    by TRJ


    I watch games regardless of how good or bad the team is. I would be more likely to attend one if it were downtown.

    • Nov 30, 20123:47 pm
      by pistons morbidung


      Drew called, he said the check is in the mail.

      • Dec 2, 20123:17 pm
        by TRJ



        I guess I’ll clarify:
        - I am interested in Detroit for reasons other than the Pistons. Auburn Hills has nothing of interest to me besides for the Pistons
        - I live closer to Detroit than Auburn Hills, and Detroit is generally more central to where the people that I know live

  • Nov 30, 201212:25 pm
    by RobG


    I am at least a partial season ticket holder for the Tigers, Lions and Pistons, so I get out for a lot of games both in Auburn Hills and downtown.  For me, I love the Palace.  Selfishly, its closer to my home, so it makes it easy to get there and back.

    Of the three franchises, there is no doubt that the Pistons have always treated me the best.  Not even close.  If the Pistons were to move downtown, I know I wouldn’t get tickets despite the great treatment, but I still can’t see them filling an arena unless the team is good.  Same goes for the Wings.  Unless the product is above average, the apathy sets in and you have an empty arena.  Those are the facts

  • Nov 30, 201212:43 pm
    by Pistons87


    I live in Washtenaw county and I only go to 1 or 2 games a year because of the hassle of getting to the palace and back here again. I would rather have a downtown stadium. I believe they would have better attendance when they’re not very good because there is other stuff going on and you’ll get some Overflow, which is the point of building up a downtown area.

    That being said.  The Palace is a great stadium and does not need to be replaced, certainly not at any cost to taxpayers.  I just hate where it’s at and always have even when I lived downtown. 

    • Dec 2, 20123:19 pm
      by TRJ


      I agree with all of that

  • Nov 30, 20121:15 pm
    by Ryank


    Ain’t gonna happen.  Gores owns the area, concessions, parking, team…  Why would he go to someone else’s facility and loose all the revenue? 
    I’d like to see it downtown, and I think they need to change the name of the team if they are stying in Auburn Hills.  But I know it’s going no where.

  • Nov 30, 20121:24 pm
    by garenh


    i would go to downtown from ann arbor for almost every game. every time i am about to get a ticket, i remember how long it takes me to drive, so i sit in front of the tv. it takes more time to drive than to actually see the game, any excitement you get from the game is lost during the long, cold drive back home. even if pistons are winning. so downtown it is…  

  • Nov 30, 20122:34 pm
    by Damien Devilson


    Pure wishful thinking & interior motive propaganda on Drew’s part to want the Pistons to move downtown.  Must be a slow news day if this is the best article he can right.  The Freep doesn’t even put the Piston’s articles on their main homepage!

    As many here have already said, its the team that that fills the stadium, not how new the venue is…. 

  • Nov 30, 20122:57 pm
    by mugginns


    I’d never make a Pistons game if they moved downtown. Too much hassle getting there.

  • Nov 30, 20127:06 pm
    by T Casey


    I’m gonna miss the Palace if/when they finally do leave. They’ve been there ever since I was born and I’ll never forget being there in ’04 when they won it all. A lot of great moments there.

    And to echo two big points by Patrick and some of the other posters here, as a non-Detroit resident, traveling downtown, the few times I have for Tigers games, feels like more of a hassle than going to the Palace. The problem with fan attendance right now is that, not only is the team bad, but there hasn’t been a solid/clear direction for fans to get behind. Now we finally have a picture of what success may look like for the team with Monroe, Knight, Singler, and Drummond deverloping as players and as a team. If they can turn the corner and start putting together wins, +.500 to be specific, those seats will begin to fill up again no doubt.

    No way has the allure just run out, out of nowhere after havng one of the most successful attendance records in the league just a few years ago. Instead it sounds like management is attempting to cash in on the allure of a new location to sell tickets despite the teams still, atm, sub par performance.

  • Nov 30, 20128:41 pm
    by A.


    This is one of the rare occasions I agree with Drew Sharp. The idea that the Pistons should just always have a championship team and they will fill the seats is a little simple minded. Yes it would be great if the team just won all the time, but outside of two or three teams in the league that is not remotely realistic. Teams will have to periodically rebuild in the draft through bad records when they can’t attract free agents. Look at the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks are terrible every year. Yet, people still show up because they can walk to dinner or to a bar afterwards. As someone mentioned above the location keeps attendance up in the down cycles. When you isolate the team in the northern suburbs people will only show up if the product is good and for a franchise that can’t always put a good team on the floor every single year no matter how hard it tries its current location is just bad business.

    • Nov 30, 20128:52 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “The idea that the Pistons should just always have a championship team and they will fill the seats is a little simple minded.”

      Realistically, no one expects that. The point is, the only tried and true methods to sell out your arena in the NBA are to, A. win a lot; or B. have a superstar(s) player who sells tickets. There is simply no formula, outside of being the only game in town like Portland, for a bad team to draw fans. It won’t happen.

      “Look at the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks are terrible every year. Yet, people still show up because they can walk to dinner or to a bar afterwards.”

      The Bucks are 27th in the league in attendance this season, and that’s with a team that has a legit shot at the playoffs. This is where they’ve ranked from 2012 back to 2001: 26th, 23rd, 24th, 24th, 22nd, 23rd, 20th, 25th, 14th, 17th, 12th, 13th.

      Those four years in the early 2000s, the Bucks were a playoff team and they still had mediocre attendance. When they are average or worse, they don’t draw anyone. Their arena and location has zero to do with how well the Bucks draw. Whether or not they suck has significantly more to do with it.

      You could put this exact same Pistons team the last four years in a beautiful downtown arena, and other than the initial season when the arena opened, they’d still have bad attendance. The Palace is a great facility, it is paid for and it is a cash cow because it’s also a great concert venue that brings in revenue for ownership even when the basketball team occupying it isn’t drawing. The Pistons have zero incentive to move into a new arena. It makes absolutely no sense from any practical standpoint. 

  • Nov 30, 20129:39 pm
    by A.


    Patrick. All very valid points. But I disagree and should clarify a little. I’m not saying they need to abandon the Palace now. You’re right it’s still a nice stadium and they should stay there for a while more. But in ten or fifteen years there is no reason they should still be there. My critique is for long term.

    I appreciate the Bucks attendance statistics, but while the Bucks are 27th in attendance this year the Pistons are 30th. And to be frank I think, as Sharp implies, the Pistons attendance records are really padded to avoid embarrassment. I watch both teams (and attend games) and there is a notable visual difference in attendance. A good location will provide a minimum attendance in the bad years and that minimum attendance every game still adds up to important revenue for medium and small market teams. I’m not contending it will sell the place out or even put it in the top two thirds in attendance.

    Finally, I really have to take issue with the idea that fans show up to Bucks games because they are a possible playoff team. As a fan of both teams who lives next to the Bradley Center I can tell you that the Bucks, unlike the Pistons, have no fan base and no one here has any idea what their record is. Individual Packers players have a larger fan base here. The Bucks are perpetually on the mediocrity treadmill and Pistons are actually several years ahead of the Bucks in terms of a championship run. Fans here only show up because they can’t get Packers or Brewers tickets and they can grab a bite in the bar district that’s grown all around the stadium because of attendance. 

    Finally, please stop refuting my posts with hard empirical evidence that clearly disproves my point. Sometimes a guy just wants to leave a random post. (:  

    • Nov 30, 201211:05 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      I get what you’re saying … honestly, I was just worked up because of Sharp’s column that is so far removed from reality. And actually, a couple other columnists in Michigan have suggested the team should move to Detroit too.

      Like I said in the post, I would love to watch the Pistons play in downtown Detroit. But financially, it makes absolutely no sense. 

  • Dec 11, 201210:27 pm
    by Aaron


    The Red Wings sharing an arena with the Pistons would make economical sense, especially since the city of Detroit is practically poor. I understand some reasonings for some Pistons fans not wanting to drive downtown for a game. An alternative to all this would be to perhaps renovate both arenas. Although that’s long shot at best.

    • Dec 11, 201210:39 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Economic sense for who? The Pistons own their own arena. They’d be moving into an arena owned by Ilitch and have to pay to lease it. It makes absolutely no economic sense for the Pistons to do it. It would be a great deal for the Red Wings if Gores were dumb enough to do it.

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