By Edward Cardenas
AUBURN HILLS (CBS Detroit) – When the Detroit Pistons take the court Saturday for their home opener at the Palace of Auburn Hills, fans will have greater connectivity in the arena and a groundbreaking, new high-definition scoreboard to catch every pass, three-pointer and dunk.
The enhanced Wi-Fi, new scoreboard and other digital screens and scoreboards are some of the final components of a$40 million renovation project undertaken by Tom Gores and Platinum Equity following the acquisition of Palace Sports and Entertainment in 2011.
“The money that he has put into it has been to engage the fans at a deeper level,” said Dennis Mannion, CEO of Palace Sports & Entertainment, who described Gores’ approach to renovating the Palace as “measured and strategic.” “We are in this day and age of inside access, and fans expect it.”
Throughout The Palace, starting in the West Atrium and moving throughout concourses, menu boards and signage, the facility was transformed and modernized the facility with “calming” silver and blue color schemes, video boards and photos of artists and athletes throughout the arena. Restaurants, suites and the Pistons locker were also redone.
The final phase includes enhanced free Wi-Fi in the arena; an new Detroit Pistons app that includes exclusive team content, a proximity beacon technology for exclusive content and in-arena offers; new LED light rings inside the arena which offers video capabilities; digital signage on portals and the centerpiece: a rectangular-shaped, Palace360 high-definition scoreboard.
“Three years ago you could walk into any facility, and if you weren’t getting your text, you would be upset but you would understand,” Mannion said. “Dial forward three years, and now people feel like text isn’t an accoutrement, it’s a requirement.”
Palace officials first worked on the “railroad tracks” to improve the wireless service in the arena, and then worked on bringing the fans into the game. One of the biggest ways this is done is through the six-screen scoreboard inside the arena which stretches from foul-line, is 60-feet-wide and 22-feet high, and is 21-times sharper and three-times larger than its predecessor.
Mannion said the organization’s thoughts behind the improvements were to, “Make sure we are bringing the fans in closer to the game with better video, tighter shots better statistics, better video b-roll. So if you went to a second screen off the main screen, you could enjoy the game any way you wanted to.”
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. It has also 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.