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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Can't we just watch the Pistons lose in peace?

Did you miss Taio Cruz? Kicking yourself over the time you forgot Miami and T-Pain were visiting The Palace? Those obnoxious theme nights and halftime guests of hip hop also-rans are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, according to Palace president Dennis Mannion, who told the Free Press the Pistons would be hosting these distractions even if the Pistons didn't have a .200 winning percentage.
"It goes right into time usage and the quality of an experience," Mannion said recently. "You never know if you are going to win or lose, right? You really don't, but you want to make sure as a consumer that when I come out I'm going to be a hero to my kids and be a hero to my friends and have a good time."
Can't we just watch the Pistons lose in peace? Does every game need to be turned into a spectacle, concert and/or some other type of anomaly? We don't even have any evidence to suggest these stunts are drawing fans to the games. 
Last Friday was 80s Night with Morris Day against the Atlanta Hawks. 14,010 fans. Good, but far from a sellout. As I mentioned last time I lamented the Pistons' staggeringly low attendance, The Palace has the NBA's largest seating capacity at more than 22,000. (That may change, as owner Tom Gores is having some of the luxury suites removed.)
Crain's Detroit reported, two days ago, the Pistons are dead last in NBA attendance at just 12,619 per game. 
So what about that aforementioned stop by T-Pain ... and the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat?18,058. Again, not a sellout. If you can't fill the place for the biggest names in the game, it's not going to happen.
It's a rebuilding time. I remember the last one in my childhood, 1993-94. It was terrible, but the Pistons ended up with Grant Hill and a string of first-round playoff exits. What Mannion and Gores are doing would be admirable if they weren't reaching so far. If there were giveaways and more genuine fan interaction, as that Freep story indicates there may be, fans will show for big games. You just have to hope the Pistons do, too.
Mannion and his Palace Sports and Entertainment team surely have one of the worst gigs in town right now. Their brainstorming sessions are an unenviable exercise in futility. I'm not sure if anyone would notice if they just stopped lining up obscure halftime acts right now and saved their money.
Maybe it's the type of promotion being offered. Over-the-top spectacles as opposed to practical giveaways. Maybe Tom Gores has been in L.A. too long and needs some promotions with Midwest appeal. I'd certainly be more intrigued by a cheap ticket, free parking, beer, hot dogs or other offerings. Maybe it's time for that route.
On that note remember, tonight is 90s night, and Vanilla Ice (surely you remember him before he had a show about "flipping" houses) performs that song you sometimes hear at weddings as the 4-20 Pistons play the equally poor Milwaukee Bucks for the third time this short season. Also, Flo Rida visits Feb. 19 ... along with the Boston Celtics.


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