The Palace of Auburn Hills — home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, and a city mainstay for countless concerts, sporting events and other special productions — is set to close its doors in a few short weeks on September 23. But there’s cause for celebration: Fans of the Pistons (and the Red Wings) are getting a shiny new venue in downtown Detroit this year, with the opening of the Little Caesars Arena in September. In honor of this big transition, let’s take a look back at the historical highlights of the Palace at Auburn Hills.
The Palace of Auburn Hills opened on Aug. 13, 1988 and hosted its first NBA game just a couple months later, when the Pistons beat the Charlotte Hornets 94-85. (The Pistons had been playing in the Pontiac Silverdome, a massive football venue that was not particularly well suited for basketball.) An opening night sellout of 21,454 people watched the game.
Sting was the inaugural concert at The Palace, gracing the stage during his Nothing Like the Sun concert tour. He was later followed by Michael Jackson, who performed three consecutive sold-out shows on his Bad World Tour as the first performer to sell out the venue more than two nights in a row. A native of the Detroit suburbs, Madonna performed two sold-out shows during her Drowned World Tour Aug. 25–26, 2001, which were recorded and broadcast live on HBO.
The Palace earned many accolades almost immediately, including “New Venue of the Year” by Performance Magazine and “Best New Concert Venue” by Pollstar. Performance Magazine went on to honor it with the “Arena of the Year” nomination 10 times, and the venue took the title seven times.
With a capacity of more than 22,000, The Palace has seen almost 600 sellout events in its 20 years. Basketball has been a boon for the venue from day one: The Detroit Pistons sold out 245 consecutive games at The Palace, from the building’s first game in November 1988 until December 1993. Since 2004, the three-time NBA champs have given the venue another 235 consecutive sellouts, including playoffs.
The Final Event
With its successful history and decades’ worth of memories for adoring fans, the doors of the venue will close for good on September 23. Fittingly, a classic rocker will close out this classic venue: Bob Seger, a Detroit native and local legend who has sold out 16 shows at the Palace, will give the stage its swan song.
Calling all Pistons and Red Wings fans: Check out our comprehensive guide of parking options around Little Caesars Arena, so you’re prepared for your first game at the new stadium!