The Palace of Auburn Hills
Conceptualized and built by Arena Associates, consisting of Pistons managing partner William Davidson, along with David Hermelin and Robert Sosnick, The Palace was immediately recognized as an all-encompassing entertainment venue and it quickly became one of the nation’s top concert facilities when it opened in 1988. After just one season, The Palace was honored by two entertainment trade publications, being named “New Venue of the Year” by Performance and “Best New Concert Venue” by Pollstar. With the cost of the building and every dollar spent on additions and improvements being privately financed, The Palace continues to uphold its reputation as one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment venues.
Overall, The Palace has been nominated “Arena of the Year” 10 times by Performance magazine and won the award seven times. It has also earned 10 “Arena of the Year” nominations from Pollstar magazine and won the honor in 1992. Since its inception, The Palace has hosted almost every major touring concert act.
Since its opening, The Palace has undergone more than $112.5 million in venue renovations throughout the years. For its 20th birthday in 2008, guests enjoyed a totally refurbished main concourse and its original club/banquet area was updated and re-launched as the Chairman’s Club. Among its other notable additions include the West Entrance Atrium, which was completed in 1996 and contains three levels of offices, a storage facility and an expanded entrance with numerous amenities. This was followed by the addition of the 12,000 square-foot Caesars Windsor Club on the concourse level. In 2004, a Light Emitting Diodes (LED) board was installed, allowing for the display of electronic signage around the entire arena and around the state-of-the-art hanging scoreboard during events.
CAPACITY: Basketball – 22,076; Hockey – 20,804; Concert and Family Shows – 6,000 to 23,000 depending on configuration.
NUMBER OF EVENTS: An annual average of 200.
PROFESSIONAL TEAMS: Detroit Pistons (NBA).
ACREAGE: The Palace sits on 61.1 acres (2,662,717 square feet) and was cited by conservationists for its work in preserving natural wetlands areas throughout the property during the building’s construction in 1988.
OVERALL BUILDING AREA: 570,000 square feet.
ATRIUM ADDITION: 100,000 square-foot addition which opened on September 13, 1996.
ATRIUM HEIGHT: 117 feet.
CAESARS WINDSOR CLUB ADDITION: 12,000 square feet.
COMCAST PAVILION ADDITION: 65,000 square feet.
SUITES: 193 total. 180 suites overlook the arena, some as close as 16 rows from the floor. This trend started with The Palace’s construction and is now widely copied in nearly every arena built today. The first and third level suite concourses have each undergone face-lifts and are named the Caesars Windsor Suite Level (first level) and Comerica Suite Level (third level). There are also eight suites without arena views in Club 53 and five suites without arena views in the President’s Club.
COURTSIDE LOUNGES AND COURTSIDE CLUB ADDITION: 5,600 square feet.
The project also included a 65,000 square feet expansion of the North Entrance, named the Comcast Pavilion, which opened April 2006. The pavilion’s lower level is home to the other set of exclusive club/suites. Club 53, which opened in February 2006, boasts a central club/bar area and eight luxury private suites averaging 1,000 square feet. It is accessible via a private entrance in the Comcast Pavilion and through a tunnel entrance leading to 100 level suite corridor and an exclusive entrance into the arena. The pavilion’s concourse level created a dramatic new grand entrance/lobby, which provides guests with additional concourse space, additional box office windows and a new retail area. The new area also increased dining options and amenities in The Palace with café areas featuring Big Boy and Buffalo Wild Wings, the Red Bull Bar and Captain Morgan’s Bar. The upper level of the pavilion is the luxurious Pistons VIP Club, which has approximately 700 members. Opening approximately the same time was the Sanders Dessert Stop on the concourse at the top of the West Entrance stairs, offering sweet treats to guests for all Palace events. It was later joined by a Tubby’s submarine stand immediately adjacent.
Throughout the years, the organization has added more than a dozen branches. The growth led to a name change, Palace Sports and Entertainment, Inc. (PS&E), to reflect its ever-widening scope of operations. This expansion culminated in 1990 when it purchased DTE Music Theatre (then known as Pine Knob). Since its first summer operating the venue in 1991, the amphitheater has been named the nation’s busiest or top-grossing outdoor venue 19 consecutive summers by Amusement Business or Pollstar. Winner of Pollstar’s “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue” in 2000, DTE has been nominated 11 consecutive times for this award which is voted on by a reader’s poll.
In 1994, PS&E took over management of Meadow Brook Music Festival, which is housed on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Both The Palace of Auburn Hills and Meadow Brook Music Festival have been named “Prime Site Award” winners by Facilities magazine in two consecutive years, 2003 and 2004.
Additional organizational components include a TV and Video center featuring network-quality equipment, an in-house promotional agency, Locker Room retail stores, Palace Publications, Palace Creative Group, PS&E Network and Meteor graphics and display company.