AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) today announced it is nearing completion of a $40 million, three-year renovation that has transformed the Palace of Auburn Hills since Tom Gores and Platinum Equity acquired PS&E in 2011. PS&E said the fourth and final stage is underway and includes a massive cutting edge high-definition scoreboard and all-new digital assets inside and outside of the arena, which are expected to be installed by early November. The capital improvements to the 21,231-seat multi-purpose home of the Detroit Pistons solidify the Palace’s position as one of the nation’s premier modern sports and entertainment venues.


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“When we acquired PS&E three years ago we made a commitment to revitalize the business from top to bottom.  We are making good on that promise by investing in the team, the facilities and the community,” said Detroit Pistons and PS&E principal owner Tom Gores.  “We are providing our fans one of the most innovative, technologically advanced facilities in the country and the best game day experience possible.”


The three-year renovation has upgraded nearly every aspect of the arena, including concourses and other open areas, restaurants, club spaces, suites, even the Detroit Pistons locker room was completely redone to provide state-of-the-art training capabilities.


The final phase, expected to be done by early November, will feature the installation of a new center court high-definition “Palace360” scoreboard system, upper-level endzone boards with game statistics, LED ribbon boards encircling the lower-level and upper-level fascia, arena tunnel entrance digital displays, and audio system enhancements.  Outside the facility, an all-new digital video system featuring 1080p HD screens will enhance the programming capabilities for The Palace Marquee at the Lapeer Road entrance.


“The new screens are stunning and combined with all the other upgrades we have made, will completely transform the way people experience a game at the Palace,” said Dennis Mannion, CEO of Palace Sports & Entertainment. “The new boards are three times bigger and allow us to better integrate views of game action and highlights. It will be a thrilling, fully immersive experience.”


Credit: Detroit Pistons

Credit: Detroit Pistons


Final Phase – New Digital Assets


The centerpiece of the digital asset renovation taking place this summer is a sparkling rectangular-shaped, Palace360 high-definition scoreboard that will have six displays, and is 60-feet-wide and 22-feet-high from foul-line to foul-line.  The scoreboard is 21-times sharper and three-times larger than its predecessor and weighs approximately 56,000 pounds.  The video display boasts two 42-foot-wide and 24-foot-high 1080p HD screens that run along the sidelines and two 720p HD end screens facing each baseline that measure 27.5-feet-wide and 16-feet-high for a total of 2,896 square feet of active display area.


There are also two underbelly displays for premium seat fans that are 16-feet-wide and 8.5-feet-tall. Endzone video boards located below the third-level suites on each baseline are 80-feet-wide and six-feet-high and feature data systems for advertising and statistical information.  By contrast, the existing center-hung standard definition scoreboard that will be replaced has four boards, was installed in 1999-2000 and has approximately 1/8th the square display footage.


Other prominent features of the new video display system include two LED light rings – upgrading existing electronics – that encircle the arena fascia between the upper and lower bowls.  Digital signage also will be featured on the inside portals of the arena and on the floor behind the basket in padded portable units, resulting in just under 9 million LED pixels spread across 42 new displays.  The final component of the new digital video system will be new 1080p HD screens and programming capabilities for The Palace Marquee at the Lapeer Road entrance.  Operational elements of the system are integrated for both unique and all-in-one programming that is controlled by a central control room inside the arena.


Daktronics, an industry leader in LED displays, will manufacture and install the custom-designed video board.  Anthony James Partners served as consultants on the design of the system. All displays installed inside the arena will be manufactured in the United States.

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New Technology Enabling New Levels of Fan Engagement


According to Mannion, the new video displays represent just the latest in a series of technological improvements PS&E has deployed in order to meet the increasing demand fans have for connectivity, before, during and after games, both inside and away from the arena.


“As a new generation of sports fan uses smart phones and mobile tablets to enhance the live sports experience and connect with sports teams, our focus is to thrill Pistons fans at every turn by customizing our content and service to meet their individual needs,” said Mannion.  “Using wireless connectivity and technological innovation through the Pistons mobile app and other arena activations we can segment and communicate with our fan base based on individual preferences, provide inside-access content and deliver great value for the consumer.”


Technological advances, including free WiFi capabilities throughout the arena, allow fans the ability to interact socially while accessing free internet and live-radio streaming on the Pistons mobile app.  The  mobile app, which has had over 56,000 downloads and over 1.25 million sessions since its inception in 2013, delivers 24/7 access to news and information, live game statistics, inside-access video content and arena maps and information.  Beginning this season, fans utilizing the Pistons mobile app will have an enhanced experience at The Palace as the organization will use the latest in proximity beacon technology to send seat upgrade notifications, welcome messages, exclusive content, in-arena offers and more directly to mobile devices.  Future technological advancements will include increased use of paperless ticketing, in-seat food and beverage ordering, zone based communications and multicast video replay capabilities.


Further use of arena DAS WiFi capabilities allow fans interact on game night through Pistons’ social media channels on Twitter (over 290,000 followers – a 78% increase year-over-year and 1st among non-playoff teams), Facebook (over 1,190,000 fans – a 138% year-over-year increase and 6th among non-playoff teams) and Instagram (over 98,000 followers).


Enhancing the value of the live sports experience, fans each game receive free copies of a special Pistons Action Guide and interact using text and social media communication to receive tickets to future games, autographed merchandise and other special offers each quarter while also utilizing wireless technology to participate in a Pistons 50/50 raffle benefitting the Come Together Foundation.  Pistons season ticket members enjoy customized club spaces and engage digitally with a Pistons Rewards Program platform to accumulate points and cash them in for gifts, experiences and personalized merchandise.


Fan affinity clubs for men, women and youngsters allow for team interaction each week with an e-mail newsletter that contains club-specific media content and videos, demographically aligned fan experiences and special offers to future Palace events.


“The capital improvements and technological advances made at The Palace of Auburn Hills are on the cutting edge of what is being done in NBA arenas and actively promotes the idea of a connected arena,” said Amy Brooks, Executive Vice President, Team Marketing & Business Operations for the National Basketball Association.  “Their ability to engage fans digitally through the installation of a state-of-the-art HD center-hung scoreboard, arena DAS WiFi system and the Pistons Mobile App creates a unique fan experience and increased level of engagement beyond the action taking place on the basketball floor.”


Since its opening in 1988, The Palace of Auburn Hills has undergone more than $141.5 million in renovations and upgrades and recently won the Michigan AIA 25-Year Award for architectural prowess.  The Palace has been voted Arena of the Year eight times by Performance Magazine, twice by Pollstar and is listed annually among North America’s top-grossing arenas.


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