Don’t forget about the Pistons leaving the Palace

Jake Keeley

What seems to have been lost amongst all the commotion of the Red Wings leaving the historic Joe Louis Arena is the fact the Pistons are leaving the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons, let’s not forget, at one time held a favorable position within our sports landscape, and I would be remiss if I did not mention their move from the Palace to downtown Detroit. Basketball is obviously an intensely popular sport in Michigan, and the memories that the ‘best five alive’ elicit from their time at the Palace rival any of those created at the Joe. 

Upon first thought it may seem trivial to compare the two, but it’s really not, trust me! Mr. Big Shot, Sheed, Big Ben, Rip and Tayshaun were as formidable as any five guys could be on a basketball court, and their run of conference finals appearances demonstrate just that. At the time, the Palace was a rowdy venue, and I can only imagine the noise that was generated during the Bad Boys era. However, as the Pistons organization has learned, and the Red Wings organization appear to be learning, all good things must come to an end, which concludes our time at the Palace and JLA.

Upon review of the two stadiums, the comparisons stop after housing championship teams. The Palace is a nice venue. The Joe is not. Say what you will, but I’m six foot tall and I think my shins were bleeding from rubbing them on the chair in front of me during my last visit at the Joe. On the contrary, what the Palace lacks is exactly that ‘charm.’ There is nothing that stands out at the Palace, aside from a long drive and a longer time spent waiting to exit. 

So, time to be excited for Little Caesar’s arena right? Wrong. Don’t be fooled as there is nothing good about publicly funded stadiums, especially when the team owner/owners are extremely wealthy individuals. The “it’ll be good for the city” crowd either has not been to Detroit in quite some time, or is taking the contrarian view that after Ford Field and Comerica Park opened Detroit really hit its stride. There is simply no research to suggest that opening a new sports stadium moves an economy forward. 

Furthermore, there is common sense that says underfunded schools/programs decrease the probability of creating a thriving community. Any local school would love to see a fraction of the money the public put up to finance this stadium, but instead it is spent on a flashy new arena that will likely result in a short-lived spike in attendance, followed by one or two all-star games before another city gets suckered into financing a newer, better stadium.

Unfortunately, what’s done is done, and we can only look to the future. You might actually be surprised to find that I’m quite happy the Pistons are moving to Detroit. I’ll gladly take heading to Detroit over Auburn Hills any day of the week. It’s just in the way they are moving which upsets me. If they could potentially offer any increase in Andre Drummond’s free throw percentage, maybe I would change my mind.