As basketball fans who have attended this year’s Detroit Pistons’ pre-season games at the Palace of Auburn Hills already know, the capstone to the venue’s $40-million, three-year renovation is the new six-screen, high-definition scoreboard system. However, officials at the Palace say the scoreboard is not running at full capacity, and the best is yet to come.
“It’s a little bit like a Ferrari,” says Dennis Mannion, CEO of Palace Sports and Entertainment, noting that they learn something new about the scoreboard’s capabilities each time they test it.
The “Palace360” scoreboard consists of six displays, is 60 feet wide and 22 feet high, and extends from foul-line to foul-line. Weighing approximately 56,000 pounds, the scoreboard is 21 times sharper and three times larger than the previous scoreboard.
Not only do the screens share game information, statistics, and live video highlights, they also offer great potential in terms of fan engagement, Mannion says. The board will be converged with the Pistons mobile app, allowing a control board at the Palace to import content such as fan photos from smartphones onto the board.
“We’re not trying to rival the home experience,” Mannion says. “We’re trying to take one of the NBA’s biggest seating bowls and make it highly interactive. Sometimes, these arenas almost feel cavernous, but this board is going to create a very intimate environment between the things that are happening on the court with the players and coaches and the things that are happening with our game day performers, and then connect that also to the fans seating in the suites.”
The new video display system — which also includes two rings that run around the arena between the upper and lower bowls and can display live video — follows the installation of a high-powered Wi-Fi system, which will be complemented by new beacons that connect with smartphone users who have downloaded the team’s mobile app.
“We’re testing the beacons throughout the facility,” Mannion says. “Because we have such great (Internet) connectivity, we can give fans walking by the merchandise store or certain concession stands certain value-based deals or discounts. Hopefully, (we’ll be able to) evolve that to where we can have more connectivity outside of the bowl.”
The Palace will also be launching this season a new program called Elevate, which allows guests to interact in real-time with staff in the venue’s command center to determine, for example, which concession stands have shorter lines.
“There’s a bounce in everyone's step because there's no shortage of ideas,” Mannion says.
The renovations, which first began when Tom Gores and Platinum Equity acquired Palace Sports and Entertainment in 2011, have also included upgrades to the arena’s concourses, restaurants, club spaces, suites, and Pistons locker room.