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The Palace of Auburn Hills

The Palace of Auburn Hills
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Location 6 Championship Drive
Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326
United States
Owner Tom Gores
Operator Palace Sports and Entertainment
Capacity 21,231 (Basketball)[1]
20,804 (Hockey)
6,000 to 23,000 (Concerts)
Broke ground June 7, 1986[2]
Opened August 13, 1988
Construction cost $70 million
($140 million in 2016 dollars[3])
Architect Rossetti Architects
Project manager Frank Rewold and Sons[4]
Structural engineer McClerg & Associates Inc.[5]
General contractor R.E. Dailey & Company[6]
Detroit Pistons (NBA) (1988–present)
Detroit Shock (WNBA) (1998–2009)
Detroit Vipers (IHL) (1994–2001)
Detroit Safari (CISL) (1994–1997)
Detroit Rockers (NPSL) (1997–2000)
Detroit Fury (AFL) (2001-2004)

The Palace of Auburn Hills (commonly referred to as The Palace) is a sports and entertainment venue in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. The arena opened in 1988 and is the home of the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA). It was the home of 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.


  • History 1
    • Basketball 1.1
    • Notable concerts 1.2
    • The Malice at the Palace 1.3
  • Facility information 2
  • Wrestling 3
  • Banners 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Exterior view of The Palace of Auburn Hills

From 1957 to 1978, the Pistons competed in Detroit's Olympia Stadium 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. A group led by Davidson bought vacant land in Auburn Hills from Joseph Shewach and built The Palace there for the relatively low cost of $70 million, using entirely private funding. The Davidson family held a controlling interest in the arena until Tom Gores purchased majority share in 2011.


The arena opened in time for the Pistons' first NBA championship season, in 1988–1989. Since then, when one of The Palace's basketball occupants has won a championship, the number on its address has 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). The original address was 3777 Lapeer Road.

Notable concerts

Sting performed during his ...Nothing Like the Sun Tour on August 13, 1988, becoming the very first musical act to perform at The Palace.[7]

Michael Jackson performed three consecutive sold–out shows, during his Bad World Tour on October 24–26, 1988, becoming the first music artist to sell out The Palace more than two nights in a row.

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.

Demi Lovato performed a sold out show at the Palace on March, 13, 2014, for her Neon Lights Tour. The show was recorded for a Vevo Presents.

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.[8] 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 The Dave Matthews Band, with unannounced guest Neil Young.[9]

The Malice at the Palace

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 it become colloquially referred to as "The 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.

Facility information

Then-Pistons owner William Davidson and two developers privately financed the $90 million construction of The Palace, and did not have to use public funds.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

The Palace is 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 is now one of the oldest arenas in the NBA, the Pistons have shown little interest in replacing it, as its foresighted design contains the amenities that most NBA teams have sought in new arenas. 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 undergoing major renovations or slated for replacement. 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, has remained one of the successful suburban arenas).[10][12][13][14]

Nonetheless, Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) has spent $117.5 million in upgrades and renovations to keep the arena updated.[10] 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.[15]

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.

The Palace is one of only two NBA arenas which has not sold its naming rights to a corporate sponsor. The other is Madison Square Garden, named after President James Madison. The Palace is one of just eight basketball arenas owned by their respective NBA franchise. It is one of the few arenas that can hold its locations entire population 21,412 at the 2010 census, its holds 22,076 for NBA games.


On August 30, 1993, the World Wrestling Federation hosted SummerSlam in The Palace of Auburn Hills. Lex Luger defeated Yokozuna by countout in the main event.


The Palace has several different types of banners hanging from its rafters. These include all-time great Pistons, both Pistons and Shock team achievements.

Retired numbers:

Team accomplishments: Detroit Pistons:

  • 1988–89 Eastern Conference Champions
  • 1988–89 NBA Champions
  • 1989–90 Eastern Conference Champions
  • 1989–90 NBA Champions
  • 2001–02 Central Division Champions
  • 2002–03 Central Division Champions
  • 2003–04 Eastern Conference Champions
  • 2003–04 NBA Champions
  • 2004–05 Eastern Conference Champions
  • 2004–05 Central Division Champions
  • 2005–06 Central Division Champions
  • 2006–07 Central Division Champions
  • 2007–08 Central Division Champions

Detroit Shock:

  • 2003 WNBA Champions
  • 2006 WNBA Champions
  • 2008 WNBA Champions

(After the Shock relocated to Tulsa, a banner honoring the Detroit Shock's championships was unveiled in the BOK Center.)

Musical acts: 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.

See also


  1. ^ Walsh, Tom (September 7, 2014). "Palace Adds Huge New Scoreboard, Now Can Pistons Light It Up?".  
  2. ^ Haynes, Geoffrey (June 7, 1986). "Pistons Plan to Vacate Silverdome for Auburn Hills". The Argus-Press. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hinckley, David (April 5, 1995). "Extra! Extra! Late-breaking News From The World Of Entertainment". Daily News (New York). 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Glass, Alana (July 30, 2012). Forbes http://www.forbes.coms/alanaglass/2012/07/30/tom-gores-puts-his-stamp-on-the-detroit-pistons-with-arena-renovations/. 
  11. ^ Pistons spend big to land the big spenders, by John Lombardo / Sports Business Journal Staff writer, published February 28, 2005
  12. ^ a b "Last of its kind: Charlotte Coliseum to be demolished Sunday". ESPN. 
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ "Nothin' But Profit: Winning no longer key to new NBA". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  15. ^ "PISTONS: The Palace of Auburn Hills Installs Light Emitting Diode Boards in Arena". 

External links

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Pontiac Silverdome
Home of the
Detroit Pistons

1988 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Detroit Shock

Succeeded by
BOK Center (as Tulsa Shock)
Preceded by
DeSoto Civic Center
Host of Slammiversary
Succeeded by
TNA Impact! Zone
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