DETROIT (WWJ) – As the Detroit Pistons say goodbye to their home at the Palace Of Auburn Hills Monday night — some employees will be saying hello to unemployment.
Maurice Watkins, who works in the restaurant serving the team, said he’s concerned about the future.
“A lot of people are wondering where, you know, they’re gonna go, what job they’re gonna get — you know, how they’re gonna survive,” Watkins told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “It’s a change for everybody.”
The Palace cost around $140 million to build by the time it was complete in 1988, and millions more have been spent in upgrades in recent years. It’s unclear at this time how long the Palace will stay open for concerts and other events. Although nothing has been announced, local officials have surmised the building will be demolished and the land sold for redevelopment.
Sue Russell, who works in accounting for the Palace, isn’t sure whether or not she and her co-workers moving with the team.
“I have no idea when the plan is, what’s gonna happen…It is a little emotional when you know this is it,” a clearly choked-up Russell said.
“It’s very sad,” she added. “As I’m pulling into the car park, seeing the sign, that this is it — this is the last game at the Palace and it is really emotional, even for me who’s only been here for the past two years.”
The final Pistons match-up at the Palace begins at 8 p.m. against the Washington Wizards. Next season, the team moves to Detroit, joining the Red Wings at the new 20,000-seat Little Caesars Arena now under construction at Woodward Ave. and I-75, just north of downtown.
“It’ll be a good start down there for the new building,” said Matt Anderson of Lake Orion, among excited fans talking to Langton. “I know this one won’t be forgotten. It’s a lot of memories everybody has around here, fun times.”
A celebration will be held in conjunction with Monday’s game, featuring appearance by Isiah Thomas, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups , Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and others. [Monday morning, tickets were still available through Ticketmaster at this link].