Detroit Whalers

Arena Name: The Palace of Auburn Hills
Capacity: 22,076
Built: 1988
Address: 4 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, MI, 48326
Telephone No: (248) 645-6666
Last Game: 1996
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Official Web Site: http://www.palacenet.com/
Google Satellite: Click Here

The Palace of Auburn Hills
Palace of Auburn Hills
What was the Arena Like?
The Palace of Auburn Hills is the prototype new NHL/NBA arena upon which virtually all others were based in the 1990's arena construction boom. Opened in 1988, the arena is still one of the busiest in North America, and its revolutionary design ideas included moving the suite level down into the 100-level (previously they were usually up in the rafters) and segregating the 100, 200 and 300-level concourses from each other. Compare the Palace with the 8-years-older Joe Louis Arena and they seem to be decades apart; compare the Palace with the 8-years-newer HSBC Arena in Buffalo and they're virtually identical. That's how revolutionary the Palace was.

But as a home for the OHL, the Palace was simply an accident. The arena is located in suburban Auburn Hills, 25 miles north of downtown, right off I-75. It's a huge building from the outside and looks bigger thanks to being surrounded by acres of parking lots, and is coloured 1980's pink with teal-blue accents. Inside, there is a clean, spacious lobby leading into the arena concourse. There are two decks ringing the ice and a beautiful modern scoreboard.

The best thing about the Palace is the "Hall of Fame" - there is a huge museum that contains all kinds of Pistons memorabilia from over the years plus relics and souvenirs from almost every concert that's been held there. There are smashed guitars, drum heads, photos, autographs, and costumes, just like at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and it takes at least a good half-hour to see it all properly.

As the occasional home of the Detroit Whalers in the mid 1990's, the Palace of Auburn Hills mostly sat empty for games. These days, apart from the occasional special event, they don't even keep a sheet of ice in the building, and it is as the home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons that the rink is still used.

How To Get There

The Palace of Auburn Hills is located at 4 Championship Drive in Auburn Hills, Michigan. From I-75, take exit 81 (Lapeer Rd.) and proceed North on Lapeer Rd. The Palace has three entrances on the left side (West) of Lapeer Rd. The Palace is also accessible from Exits 79 (University Drive) and 83 (Joslyn Road). Signs showing directions to The Palace are posted from all three exits.
What's it Used For Today?
The Palace of Auburn Hills was only the home of the Detroit Whalers for one season, 1995-96, and even then it shared hosting duties with the smaller Oak Park Ice Arena. In the summer of 1995 the Joe Louis Arena evicted the Junior Wings. They called it a "re-arrangement of priorities", but another way to put it would be "Peter Karmanos and [Red Wings owner] Mike Illitch hate each other". By this time Peter Karmanos, a life-long Red Wings fan, had purchased the NHL's Hartford Whalers and renamed his junior team to reflect that. The cavernous Palace was only used for a few OHL games over the course of the season, and by the end of 1995-96 Karmanos had announced his intention to build his own new arena in Plymouth. The Whalers moved into the Compuware Sports Arena in time for the 1996-97 season.

The Palace of Auburn Hills was built primarily for Detroit Pistons basketball and that is what it was mainly used for up to the end of the 2016-17 season, at which point the Pistons moved back downtown into the new Little Caesar's Arena. The Palace is still a viable building, but it looks likely that it will be sold and demolished in the next few years, as the land it sits on is more valuable than the building is itself.
Inside the Palace of Auburn Hills
Palace of Auburn Hills


If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at email and I'll update the guide.



Copyright © Kevin Jordan 2002-17.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: October 28, 2017