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The Palace of Auburn Hills Detroit

The Palace of Auburn Hills

The Palace of Auburn Hills, often referred to simply as The Palace, is a sports and entertainment venue in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, USA. Opened in 1988, it is the home of the Detroit Pistons of the NBA. Since 1998 it has also hosted the Detroit Shock of the WNBA. It was also the home of the defunct Detroit Vipers of the IHL (1994–2001), Detroit Safari of the CISL (1994–1997), and the Detroit Fury of the AFL (2001–2004). It has also hosted numerous concerts and other special events throughout its history.

Before The Palace opened, the Pistons had lacked a suitable home venue. From 1957 to 1978, the team competed in Detroit’s Olympia Stadium and Cobo Arena, both considered undersized for NBA purposes. In 1978, owner Bill Davidson elected not to share the new Joe Louis Arena with the Detroit Red Wings, and instead chose to relocate the team to the Pontiac Silverdome, a venue constructed for football, where it remained for the next decade. While the Silverdome could accommodate massive crowds, it offered substandard sight lines for basketball viewing. A group led by Davidson bought vacant land in Auburn Hills from Joseph Shewach, and built The Palace there for the relatively low cost of $70 million, using entirely private funding. The Davidson family holds a controlling interest in the arena since its construction, first through Bill and currently Karen.

The arena opened in time for the Pistons’ first NBA championship season, in 1988–1989. Since then, when one of The Palace’s basketball occupants has won a championship, the number on its address has changed. Its current address is 6 Championship Drive, reflecting the Pistons’ three NBA titles and the Detroit Shock’s three WNBA titles (the Detroit Vipers’ 1997 Turner Cup championship has not been officially recognized in the arena’s address). The original address was 3777 Lapeer Road.

The first musical act to perform at The Palace was Sting, on August 13, 1988, followed by David Lee Roth, Pink Floyd and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

The Palace was also the site of an assassination attempt on Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page while he was on tour with former band mate Robert Plant during the "No Quarter Tour". On March 31, 1995, Lance Alworth Cunningham, a 23 year old who thought that Led Zeppelin music contained "satanic messages", tried rushing the stage with a knife. The man waited until the song "Kashmir" started and then made his charge for the stage while waving the weapon. The man was tackled by patrons and security about 50 feet from the stage.

The Cure recorded their live album Show at the arena across two nights on July 18 and 19, 1992. Also, KISS recorded their third live album here on November 27, 1992.

Phish played the arena on December 6, 1997. They also played there during their fall tours in 1995, 1996, & 1999.

The arena hosted WCW World War 3 pay-per-view on two occasions in 1997 and also in 1998 as well as WWF’s SummerSlam in 1993. On August 26, 2001, Madonna broadcast live on HBO her Drowned World Tour. It hosted TNA’s Slammiversary event on June 21, 2009.

The Palace was the home of two brawls, one between the NBA’s Pacers and Pistons and the other between the WNBA’s Shock and Sparks.

In 2008, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the arena, it was announced that The Palace would be raising banners to the ceiling for musical acts that have had multiple sold-out shows at venues owned by Palace Sports & Entertainment. Bon Jovi was the first to get a banner in February followed by Neil Diamond in July. In addition, these artists received banners outside the building on lightpoles along with other members of Palace Sports & Entertainment’s most attended acts including Kid Rock, Bob Seger, The Dave Matthews Band, The Barenaked Ladies, Van Halen, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Tim McGraw and Jimmy Buffett.