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Pistons again play in Detroit

The Detroit Pistons opened the 2016-17 season in the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. PHOTO/AJ KAJY

BY AJ KAJY
OU News Bureau

The Detroit Pistons took their turn breaking in Little Caesars Arena as fans gathered from across the state to experience the season opener in mid-October.

Tom Gores, owner of the Detroit Pistons, made the decision last year to move the team to Detroit. The team vacated the Palace of Auburn Hills last April.

Cemented in Midtown, Little Caesars Arena connects the city. The Palace was tucked away on a massive lot, with few surroundings.

Little Caesars Arena offers more than just a viewing experience for a game. Fans can make a game day a night out.

It starts with the fan plaza outside the Meijer entrance. Fans drink, eat and socialize before tip-off. Those who don’t have a ticket to enter the arena can watch the game on a screen in the plaza. It is tailored to provide an unforgettable fan experience.

“The plaza is by far one of the biggest innovations,” said Nick Locke of Shelby Township. “I’m going in for the game, but fans who can’t go in have this. It is really cool.”

Once in the arena, fans are greeted with options never seen in Detroit. The concourse spans two levels. Mini-museums feature the history of the Pistons. Every wall is wrapped in memorabilia representing the city of Detroit.

The concessions in the concourse are standard. The restaurant options are where Little Caesars Arena elevates itself. The fans took notice.

“We’re making a night of it. Trying all the different restaurants,” Anthony Bell of Sterling Heights said. “They were so many, and they all looked amazing.”

Those restaurants include pizza bars and sport bars. Kid Rock has two Made in Detroit eateries. A District Market features a cafeteria element with ethnic food options.

Opening night is filled with festivities every season. This season, after playing in the suburbs for the better part of four decades, the Pistons pulled out all the tricks.

The expected capacity crowd of 20,491 did not show up. Several red empty seats stood out at tip-off. Fans who did make the trip enjoyed an eventful night.

The entertainment started with concerts from two Detroit natives, Manny Torres and Dej Loaf. Torres entertained the fans at the outdoor plaza.

Dej Loaf performed inside the arena as the fans filed in. Torres sang the national anthem.

The first surprise came as Eminem welcomed the Pistons back to Detroit. He took the microphone after introductions. He spoke for less than half a minute, but received the loudest roar of the evening.

In-game entertainment stayed true to the formula used at the Palace: Dance cams, cheerleaders and free T-shirts all made the trip down I-75.

The basketball arena did its best to convince fans it was special.

Barbara Hall

“Unbelievable,” Barbara Hall of Birch Run said. “This place is all it was said to be.”

Hall has been a season ticket holder for the better part of two decades. She was hesitant to move downtown.

“The Palace was a second home to me,” she said. “I was not a fan of the move when they announced it. Birch Run to Auburn Hills was a long drive. Now I have to go down to Detroit.”

Hall and others decided that those extra amenities make it worth the drive.

“Going to the Palace, I was hyped to see a game,” Bell said. “Coming here, I’m excited for what I will do at the arena.”

That new arena feeling resonated with the fans on opening night. The presence of a few figures was felt, too.

Kid Rock, Big Sean, several Pistons legends and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attended.

“This game was memory,” Hall said. “I appreciate the new arena, but I appreciate the people who tried to make it special.”

 

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Posted by on Oct 26 2017. Filed under Featured article, Wayne C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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