Detroit Pistons Fan Attendance Down 30%, Lowest Since 1982

by January 12, 2012

The Detroit Pistons are a terrible basketball team, but even with that fact in mind, their home attendance figures are still somewhat shocking. Reports the Detroit News: “Man, I am shocked by this,’ said Norman, who said he attends 10 Pistons games a year. ‘There is nobody here. But I knew something was up even before I got in the building. We were driving up to The Palace and the parking lot was empty. I was like, ‘Wow.’ The Pistons (2-8) are not the big story at The Palace. The real story is how fans are staying away. Many want to blame backlash from the NBA lockout, however the NBA is reporting that attendance figures are up from over a year ago. Chris Granger, NBA executive vice president, said NBA attendance through the first 32 games was up 8.7 percent compared to last season. That is not happening at The Palace. The Pistons average just 11,710 fans per game, which is the lowest since 1981-82 when the Pistons averaged 9,910 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome during Isiah Thomas’ rookie season. Not counting the opening-night sellout of 22,076 the Pistons are averaging just 9,631 fans and last week were outdrawn by Michigan State women’s basketball. Last season, the Pistons averaged 16,660. ‘I will be honest with you,’ Norman said. ‘This is sad to see. I am a little saddened by this.’ A few hundred feet away Palace president Dennis Mannion sat in a chair inside his office with charts, graphs and studies that hope to capture the Pistons fans. He admitted the team under new owner Tom Gores has been overwhelmed in learning its new fan base. It’s more expansive and more diverse than expected. The season-ticket base is smaller, which Mannion said is a trend in sports, because fans do not want to devote as much time to events as they used to because of a more diverse lifestyle. The Pistons are trying to lure fans by turning games into events. There are so many live musical acts that some fans joke that the Pistons parade a basketball game in between concert sets.”