While The Palace is set for demolition in the fall, the original development of beloved building is worth remembering.

The Palace of Auburn Hills has served Metro Detroit for 31 years. This fall, however, will mark the end of an era — The Palace will be torn down and redeveloped by the Schostak Brothers.

Despite this news, there is no shortage of history surrounding The Palace. After the collapse of the Pontiac Silverdome’s roof in 1984, Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson decided it was time to search for a new home for the beloved basketball team.

With the help of Robert Sosnick and David Hermelin, who later became Davidson’s business partners, they found the perfect spot: Auburn Hills.

In 1986, they decided to go ahead with the development of The Palace of Auburn Hills. Davidson had a strict deadline for the completion: October 13, 1988, on the opening night for the Detroit Pistons.

Sosnick and Hermelin recruited Jason Horton, Davidson’s representative to the development team, to help design the elaborate building.

“I literally spent every day of my life at The Palace before the Sting grand opening concert on August 13, 1988,” Horton said.

The team began with 18 pages of preliminary sketches but continued developing ideas as The Palace was being built.

“It was the first arena in the world to have multiple suite levels,” Horton said. “Before, arenas had nothing other than skyboxes. This arena provided fantastic sightlines for basketball.”

The Palace also housed a television studio that could accommodate multiple broadcasts for local news, opposing teams and cable networks.

“We were the first to introduce gourmet food at a sports and entertainment venue,” Horton said. “Not only that, but we also were the first to have a semi-automated beverage distribution center.”

The Detroit Pistons weren’t the only inhabitants of this magnificent building — The Palace was also a huge draw for many musicians.

“The Palace was recognized by artists as a place to play if you wanted to sound good because our design was beneficial to maximizing sound acoustics,” Horton said. “We had a massive equipment grid that covered the arena. All of the lighting and speakers could be rigged on the floor then hoisted into the air.”

Courtesy of Jason Horton

Even with these impressive features, Tom Gores, the current owner of the Detroit Pistons, has partnered with the Schostak Brothers to tear down and redevelop The Palace. Horton believes corporate offices will be built where this Michigan icon once stood.

“No one could ever dream that it would be torn down after 30 years,” Horton said. “I can still remember giving Bob Seger’s entourage a tour of The Palace and observing Mr. Hermelin nail a mezuzah to the door post of the owner’s suite on August 12.”

Whether your favorite memories stem from Detroit Pistons playoff games or dancing and singing along to your favorite musicians, The Palace of Auburn Hills will always hold a special place in the heart of many Michiganders.

Do you have a favorite memory from The Palace? Leave a comment below!

2 COMMENTS

  1. One of my many memories was working on Bob And David’s Suite. They collaborated together to make one larger suite instead of two separate. Bob was like a proud parent waiting for delivery of a new child. Serious as stone but excited non the less. David was just excited and always friendly to my crew and myself. Saying “no more looking thru heads, I’ll be looking over them”. The suite was impeccable and only the best materials were used. Bob stated “spare no expense” They both wanted a showplace for family, friends and community. One of the few projects I was given free rain on and I was proud to work for such successful and distinguished gentlemen

    Rik Kowall
    Accurate Woodworking & Cabinetry

  2. My favorite memory of the Palace took place at a playoff game. The pistons were up by 7 points with under 2 minutes to go. Mr Davidson as he often did got up from his floor seat and proceeded to exit the arena. The opposing team (I think the Pacers) came back to tie the game. Mr. Davidson sat down on the isle in the second row on the isle directly behind my wife Ilene and myself. A Palace employee seeing Mr. Davidson taking a seat approaches him and asks if he had a ticket for that seat to which he said he did not. She firmly stated policy that he could not sit there without a ticket. Mr. Davidson politely apologized and left the seat and finished watching a very exciting 5 minute overtime game standing on the railing just short of the exit. I asked Megan if she had any idea who she just asked to leave the seat. As I suspected, she had no idea. The horror in her face as I told her showed her real concern she would most likely be fired. The next game she came to my seat and I told her I was happy to see her. Mr. Davidson had sought her out through employment records finding a Megan in this section, summoned her to the office prior to this game, handed her a personal note of appreciation for doing her job and doing it well, and advised she was receiving a raise and a bonus in her next check.

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