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Friday, January 06, 2012

Light buzz killing Pistons' attendance

Anytime you watch Pistons highlights these days, you might notice something besides Jonas Jerebko's reemergence -- the empty seats behind him. 
After beginning the season with a sellout crowd of 22,076, attendance at Pistons games has been sparse. While The Palace has the largest seating capacity in the NBA, they might need to think about partitioning off the upper deck, as was common with Detroit Shock games (remember those?)
The Pistons have drawn fewer than 10,000 fans each of the past three home games, games they could and should have drawn better.
Last Saturday was the Pistons' second game against the Pacers that week. Devoid of any superstars, the Pacers drew a crude 8,824 fans on the same night Detroit's most consistent team of the past 20+ years, the Red Wings, packed the house for their traditional New Year's Eve game against the Blues. 
Think it can't get any worse? Wrong. Two days later, with the Pistons going against Dwight Howard and the Magic, they drew just 8,120 fans.
Okay, so it was Jan. 2. People were just getting back into the groove after the holidays. Give them a pass. Wednesday, reigning MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls came to Auburn Hills. Oh, and a guy named Richard Hamilton, one of the greatest Pistons of all-time, was visiting for the first time after leaving for the Windy City in free agency.
Attendance -- 9,125. A little better.
The miniscule crowds are becoming a joke among beat writers, who routinely point out the lack of fans seated in the upper deck.
Typically, Pistons marketing goes hard to draw for superstars. They're not getting any help from a shortened schedule which doesn't include the "other" team from L.A., the upstart Clippers, who added even more star power to the lineup obtaining Chris Paul to go with young hot shot Blake Griffin. 
Help will come in the form of the Miami Heat, which visits twice, Jan. 25 and March 23. Surely the hated Miami Three can draw, even if the Pistons don't win another game until then. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers don't visit until March 6.
For the remainder of the season, though, it's a wonder what Palace Sports and Entertainment comes up with to draw at the games in between.
Opening night against the Cavs, it seemed new owner Tom Gores gave the orders to "L.A." things up a bit. Fans seemed to be enjoying themselves, but it was a bore on TV, as the pregame festivities were nearly 20 minutes long. Then, the Pistons laid an egg against an equally unexciting Cavaliers.
Gores and Co. can take a lesson from Mike Ilitch's two teams -- put a winner on the playing surface and fans will come. (That of course doesn't apply to the Ford family, as we all know we'll pay, maybe even top dollar, to watch even the worst football team.)Until that day comes back around for the Pistons, expect trinket giveaways, jersey retirements and anything else that helps fans forget the team on the court hasn't made the playoffs in two seasons.
(The photo above comes courtesy of CNBC's Darren Rovell)


Blogger John Leach said...

Paul. Haven't gone to a Pistons game for a while. They've been pretty bad, and I just haven't seen the logic in plopping down big bucks only to watch superstars from another city come in there and hammer the home team. Don't much care about trinkets, but they're offering a "light buzz" these days? Really? Now that's what I call a marketing ploy. It's been a long time...... lol

January 9, 2012 at 12:17 AM 

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