Fan pays stiff price for new arena experience
For a Red Wings fan, the new arena is salvation. For a longtime Pistons season-ticket holder like myself, it will take a while to supplant the memories of the world-class Palace of Auburn Hills.
Little Caesars Arena is much better than creaky Joe Louis Arena, but is built more for Red Wings fans than Pistons loyalists. Pistons center Andre Drummond agreed in a Sept. 24 tweet: “@LCA_Detroit looking more like a hockey arena...... barely any @DetroitPistons stuff in there.”
My seats are closer to the floor in Detroit, but they are less comfortable than the chairs in Auburn Hills.
The Palace resonated in part because of the friendly staff, including one who helped jimmy open our car with the keys locked inside during Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Finals. An unknown number aren’t joining the crew downtown and will be missed.
After talking with fans at Pistons events, I can say some are excited about the Pistons returning to their Detroit roots and bringing more spark to the city.
The Detroit argument leaves me cold. Little Caesars Arena is closer to home. But The Palace was accessible, and in the spring I could see the Canada geese hatchlings in the parking lot.
As for boosting the city, building two new stadiums — Comerica Park in 2000 and Ford Field in 2002 — didn’t stop Detroit from going bankrupt in 2013.
Did I mention ticket prices for myself and some others doubled? The cost of my old seats soared 105 percent, so I moved to reduce the sticker shock to a 65 percent hike.
Why the gouging? The Pistons’ “leadership team” and the NBA decided the price of my old seats — about 22 rows above but off to the side of the Pistons’ bench — was “a little unfair” because I paid the same as someone seated 10 rows behind the basket, a team representative said.
It was also “a little unfair” that, during three years of discounted games, the Pistons posted losing records of 32-50 and 37-45 and got swept in owner Tom Gores’ lone playoff series.
There will also be parking pain. I can walk from work, but others will pay what a Pistons’ notice advertised as $15 to $35 a game for guaranteed parking. I paid nothing last year at The Palace, while many others paid $15 to $20.
There is little room for error on weekday games. The new tip-off time is a half-hour earlier at 7 p.m. And fans must navigate traffic-choked city streets instead of vast Palace lots.
So excuse some of us for feeling sold-out. The Detroit move cuts costs by sharing a new facility, chopping staff and reducing fan discounts in exchange for a little-changed team and a more expensive night out.
How can the Pistons win back disappointed fans? Channel former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and “Just win, baby.” The score on NBA championships remains: Auburn Hills 3, Detroit 0.