The Palace of Auburn Hills

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The Palace of Auburn Hills
The Palace of Auburn Hills.svg
Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan.jpg
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Address6 Championship Drive [1]
Location Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S. [1]
Coordinates 42°41′49″N83°14′44″W / 42.69694°N 83.24556°W / 42.69694; -83.24556 Coordinates: 42°41′49″N83°14′44″W / 42.69694°N 83.24556°W / 42.69694; -83.24556
Owner Tom Gores [2]
Operator Palace Sports & Entertainment [3]
Capacity Basketball: 22,076 [4] [5]
Ice hockey: 20,804 [3] [5]
Concerts: 6,000 to 23,000 [3] [5]
Broke groundJune 7, 1986 [6]
OpenedAugust 13, 1988 [7]
Renovated2005, [3] 2015 [3]
ClosedOctober 12, 2017 [8]
DemolishedJuly 11, 2020 [9]
Construction cost $90 million [2]
($197 million in 2020 dollars [10] )
Architect Rossetti Architects [11]
Project managerFrank Rewold and Sons [12]
Structural engineerMcClerg & Associates Inc. [13]
General contractorR.E. Dailey & Company [14]
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, was a multi-purpose arena located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It was 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 Rockers of the National Professional Soccer League, the Detroit Neon/Detroit Safari of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, and the Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League.


The Palace was one of eight basketball arenas owned by their respective NBA franchises.


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. [15]

The court was previously named the "William Davidson Court", in honor of late owner Bill Davidson, prior to the Pistons' home opener on October 30, 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 instead re-retired atop the Palace rafters as replacement banners. [16] [17] [18]


The interior of the Palace of Auburn Hills during a Detroit Pistons basketball game in January 2006. Palace of Auburn Hills.jpg
The interior of the Palace of Auburn Hills during a Detroit Pistons basketball game in January 2006.


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. [11] [19] 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. [7] Using entirely private funding, The Palace cost a relatively low price of $90 million. [2] [11] 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. [2]


Then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson and two developers privately financed the $90 million construction of The Palace, and did not require public funds. [2]

The Palace was built with 180 luxury suites, considered an exorbitant number when it opened. However, it 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. [20] The architectural design of the Palace, including its multiple tiers of luxury suites, has been used as the basis for many other arenas in North America since its construction. [21]


The Palace opened in 1988. [7] When one of its basketball occupants won a championship, the number on its address changed. Its address was 6 Championship Drive, reflecting the Pistons' three NBA titles and the Shock's three WNBA titles (the Vipers' 1997 Turner Cup championship was not officially recognized in the arena's address; the address also remained unchanged despite the Shock's move to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010; that team is now known as the Dallas Wings). [22] [23] [24]

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 became 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 during the 1988-89 season, Charlotte Coliseum, Miami Arena, the Bradley Center and Sleep Train Arena were considered obsolete relatively quickly, due to a 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. [2] [21] [25] [26]

Nonetheless, Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) had spent $117.5 million in upgrades and renovations to keep the arena updated. [2] 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. [27]

Malice at the Palace

On November 19, 2004, a fight broke out between members of the 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 led to it becoming colloquially referred to as the "Malice at the Palace" and the "Basketbrawl". [28] [29]

The Palace was also the site of a brawl between the WNBA's Shock and Sparks on July 22, 2008. [30] [31]

Notable concerts

The Palace at night Palace Of Auburn Hills Michigan.jpg
The Palace at night

Sting performed during his ...Nothing Like the Sun Tour on August 13, 1988, becoming the very first musical act to perform at The Palace. [32]

Pink Floyd performed there on August 16–17, 1988 as part of their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour. [33] [34]

Michael Jackson performed three sold-out shows during his Bad World Tour on October 24–26, 1988. [35]

Janet Jackson performed two shows there on August 22–23, 1990 as part of her Rhythm Nation World Tour. [36] [37] Additionally, Jackson also performed there on July 30–31, 2001 during her All for You Tour. [38] [39]

Aerosmith played the venue 14 times from 1990–2012. [40]

Van Halen performed four shows on their For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour on February 21–22, 1992 and on April 3–4, 1992. [41] [42] [43] [44] They also performed consecutive shows during their The Balance "Ambulance" Tour on April 15–16, 1995. [45] [46]

U2 performed at The Palace on March 27, 1992 on the first leg of their Zoo TV Tour. During the performance, Bono called a local pizza bar from the stage and ordered 10,000 pizzas for the crowd in attendance. Approximately 100 pizzas were delivered. [47]

The Cure performed two consecutive shows, during their Wish Tour on July 18–19, 1992, with The Cranes as their opening act. The shows were recorded and released as a live album, entitled Show . [48]

Bon Jovi performed during their Keep The Faith world tour on March 2, 1993, their Crush Tour on November 18, 2000 and their Lost Highway Tour on February 20 and July 7, 2008. [49] [50] [51] [52]

Kid Rock had performed at the Palace numerous times including October 23, 1999 part of his Devil Without a Cause Tour, on March 16–17, 2002 as part of his Cocky Tour, on March 25–26, 2004 part of his Rock N' Roll Pain Train Tour, and on May 12–13, 2006 part of his Live Trucker Tour.

The Palace was the site of an attempt on the life of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, while he was on tour, with former bandmate Robert Plant, during their No Quarter Tour. On March 31, 1995, Lance Alworth Cunningham, a 23-year-old who thought that Led Zeppelin's music contained "satanic messages", tried to rush the stage with a knife. He was subdued about 50 feet from the stage. [53] [54]

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. [48]

Phish played at the Palace during their fall 1997 tour on December 6, 1997. This show is known as one of their funkiest performances of all time and includes funky versions of their songs Run Like an Antelope, Tweezer, and Izabella (Jimi Hendrix cover), among others. [55]

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 . [56]

Prince brought his Musicology Live 2004ever tour to the Palace on June 20–21, 2004. He returned to the venue on July 31. [57]

Three Days Grace held a concert at the Palace on March 21, 2008, which was recorded and released on DVD. Live at the Palace 2008 is the only full concert released by the band to date.

Replacement and demolition

In October 2016, it was reported that the Pistons' ownership were negotiating a possible relocation to Little Caesars Arena, a new multi-purpose venue then under construction in Midtown Detroit, for the 2017–18 season. Little Caesars Arena was initially designed for ice hockey to replace Joe Louis Arena as home of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, so some design modifications were needed to accommodate the Pistons. [58] [59] [60] On November 22, 2016, the team officially announced that they would play at Little Caesars Arena in 2017. [61] [62] [63] The final NBA game at The Palace was played on April 10, 2017, with the Pistons losing to the Washington Wizards, 105–101. [64] [65] This game ended a 42-year history of professional sports in Oakland County. [64] [65] [66] [67]

Bob Seger held the final concert at the venue on September 23, 2017. [68] [69] The last scheduled event at the venue was the Taste of Auburn Hills on October 12, 2017. [8] Palace Sports & Entertainment entered into a joint venture with Olympia Entertainment known as 313 Presents to jointly manage entertainment bookings and promotions for Little Caesars Arena and other venues owned by the firms. [70]

Despite its closure, the Palace was still in top condition as a sporting and concert venue. [68] However, it was located in a northern suburb, relatively far away from the city center, in light of the growing trend of "walkable urbanism" where the Pistons wanted to grow their fanbase. [71] It was speculated that the Palace would likely end up being demolished, and the site would be redeveloped to accommodate a possible new auto supplier headquarters and research and development parks. [72]

In August 2018, the arena's Palace360 scoreboard, installed in 2014, was sold to the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL to replace the old one at Gila River Arena in time for the 2018–19 season. [73] [74]

In October 2018, it was reported Oakland University considered purchasing the arena. [75] Ultimately, a deal never went through. [76]

On June 24, 2019, the arena was sold to a joint venture, which planned to redevelop the property into a mixed-use office park. [77] Demolition of the arena began in February 2020. [78] Demolition was completed on July 11, 2020 when the roof was demolished using explosives by Controlled Demolition, Inc. [9] [79]

See also

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Events and tenants
Preceded by
Pontiac Silverdome
Home of the Detroit Pistons
Succeeded by
Little Caesars Arena
Preceded by
Home of the Detroit Shock
Succeeded by
BOK Center
Preceded by
DeSoto Civic Center
Host of Slammiversary
Succeeded by
TNA Impact! Zone