Palace Revolution? Pistons Look at Cutting Half of Arena Seats


Below is a news summary by Katherine Clements, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University.

(from Sports Business Journal, February 5, 2012) In 1988, The Palace was considered innovative by building 178 suites, many of which were located mid-level in the seating bowl. Today, due to many factors, including the recession and a declining fan base, The Palace is left with an open suite inventory. In order to better utilize the unused space, new Owner Tom Gore plans to tear out many of the suites and dive into new “capital-intensive” projects. His ideas include a sports hall of fame, restaurant, and social media sites.

On average, new arenas recently built hold 60 to 70 suites, about 100 less than the Piston’s arena. The reasoning is that there have been major shifts in the premium suite market. When The Palace was built, it sold 100 suites before it even opened its doors. The recent shift in demand leaves the venue needing change. The challenge left for The Palace, and its new management, is what the change should be.

The Staples Center in Los Angeles tore out eight skyboxes to create Hyde Lounge, a sports bar that stays open long after the games end. Other success stories include Madison Square Garden, which eliminated 71 suites to create premium catwalk seats that are suspended above the floor. The United Center in Chicago consolidated their skyboxes into super-suites for 40-80 people that continue to be sold out for Blackhawk’s and Bulls’ events.

The Pistons are searching for the way to make use of their unused inventory and space. While a luxury bar worked in Los Angeles, it might not be right for Detroit. The Palace has already spent 200 million in renovations in the past 23 years, but they will not be cutting corners with this project. Executive Vice President Charlie Metzger states, “our vision is to continue to lead the way not only in our marketing but also in our in-arena facilities.” Their goal is not to simply get rid of suites, but to update the venue in a way that breathes new life into the franchise.