No Longer the Home of Basketball Royalty: What’s to come of The Palace of Auburn Hills?

On April 9th, Pistons legends united to celebrate the end of an era, as the team of today took the court for the final regulation NBA matchup at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Despite a tough 105-101 loss to the Wizards, the celebration of the once momentous building proceeded. At the end of the night, after all the goodbyes, there were few left to mourn its end, as excitement builds for ‘Deeetroit-Basketball’ to echo through the rafters of Little Caesar’s Arena.

The history of The Palace has always been a controversial one. Despite being the home of multiple championship rosters and concert memories that will last a lifetime, many believe the venue never had the opportunity to reach its full potential due to its peculiar placement. The decision to leave the immediate Detroit metropolitan was a risky decision, made by developers with a sneaking suspicion that the growing suburban market in Auburn Hills would perhaps be a more suitable environment for long-term growth.

However, in the years since its 1988 opening, that very same forecasted trend has struggled to retain its promise as many developers of the time had little suspicion of the sub sequential trend that followed: sprawling. As suburbia areas continued to spread, and the closely located additions of Ford Field and Comerica Park filled the void with exciting, walkable nightlife and sporting in downtown Detroit, the Auburn Hills area and a dedicated fan base slowly diminished in relevancy. The move to Little Caesars Arena might be the road to recovery.

Aside from the name itself, the Piston’s new digs are a huge step in the right direction, for not only the team but for the city. In addition to the Pistons, hockey town’s home team is lacing up to take the ice too. The Redwings are happy to share their new home to reunite the cities largest sports brands for the first time. The $1.2 billion dollar project will not only provide a new venue for teams and fans alike, it will create an entirely new district of exploration that accommodates housing, shopping, eateries and more. Ultimately the new development will act as a bridge between the stadium district and the remerging neighborhoods within Cass Corridor and Midtown.

With all of this excitement happening in Detroit, what’s to come of The Palace? No longer the home of kings on the court, many assumed that the venue would act as the key destination for concerts and performances. Currently, the venue’s PALACE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT brand has no shows booked further than September 2017 and little pervious to that. Last month’s announcement of Kendrick Lamar’s July 26th performance may be the last, as Little Caesars Arena has already announced concerts of enormous caliber to kick things off. Names such as Paul McCartney, Kid Rock, Janet Jackson, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga are just a sample of things to come. In light of such exciting announcements, and the lack of information available regarding what will happen with The Palace it seems likely that it is as good as dead and will be deconstructed.

It’s easy to feel that 29 years isn’t a very long time considering the costs of relocation and initial construction for the Palace, but this is actually evolving into a market trend. Based on an analysis of the average lifespan of professional sports “Stadiums”, throughout the NFL, NBA and MLB, data suggests that the average timeline for constructions and facilities of this size in the 21st century is just over 20years. These stats differed based on usage of the space, league type and more. In terms of life expectancy from a financial standpoint, baseball parks typically have the longest shelf life, lasting some 50 years on average. NHL and NBA facilities are harder to compare to the latter because they are used as mixed-spaces most frequently – hosting shows, games and other league teams year around, thanks to their requirement to be indoor facilities. With more ware and tear, these facilities have a lesser chance at becoming a historical landmark in sports like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.

In most cases of change, a move was prompted by teams, whom often come forward to city officials, owners and league commissioners with threats to relocate if they are not granted approval of a new facilities erection. Currently, the longest standing NBA facility is Oakland California’s Oracle Area, which opened in 1966 but was renovated in 1996. Still this half-century old building is breeding little complaints from its longtime tenants, and current league powerhouse, the Golden State Warriors.

While its tenure may have seemed short, and surely some aspects of the Palace will surely be missed, sports fans and concert goers alike are rejoicing over the goodtime that will be had in the heart of Detroit for decades to come.

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Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell is a Grand Valley State University alumnus, and currently a Communications Specialist with M3 Group of Lansing. With a passion for all things creative it comes as no surprise that he’s also a musician, movie buff and graphic designer. Adam spends his down time biking, and spending too much of his personal income on concert tickets or vinyl records.

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