The Detroit Pistons should play an exciting form of basketball this season. With a plethora of new players on the roster, they should at least be an interesting team for its fans to watch. With this in mind, it’s about time fans of the Pistons start showing up to support the team again. Being a Pistons fan, I hate to have to say it, but Pistons fans have been the worst fan base in the NBA over the past four seasons. There isn’t a fan base that comes close to the amazingly low bar Pistons fans have set over this span.
It’s been a sad display at the Palace, both on and off the court, since the 2009-10 season. Attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills has ranked at or near the bottom of the league each of the past four seasons. There is nothing that kills attendance like losing seasons, but Pistons fans have been well below the standard for poorly performing teams. Over this span, only two teams have failed to fill up seventy percent of their arena throughout the course of an entire season, and the Pistons have done it twice. The Pistons sold a whopping 65.3 percent of their tickets for the 2011-12 season and only 67 percent last season.
The Brooklyn Nets sold 69.1 percent of their tickets during the 2009-10 season. To put things in perspective, the Nets were still in New Jersey that season when Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team days before the preseason began and paved the way for the team to finally make its move to Brooklyn. It may not have been a cross-country move, but the fact remains the only other team that could not fill 70 percent of its seats was a team primed for relocation. Let that sink in for a minute. Still think you’re not a fair-weather fan base, Pistons fans?
I’m sure you’re ready to use the “economic apocalypse in Detroit” defense to explain these poor attendance numbers, but the other three professional sports teams in Detroit did not suffer such turnstile starvation. The Detroit Lions have dipped as low as 76.6 percent in 2009 and had 98.9 percent attendance last season. The Detroit Tigers filled 79 percent of seats in 2009 and 92.3 percent of seats so far this season. The Detroit Red Wings never filled less than 97.4 percent of their seats during this span, and they had perfect attendance last year despite a lockout shortened season (so you can go ahead and throw out that argument now, too).
Perhaps there is one common denominator here. The Lions, Tigers and Red Wings all play their home games in downtown Detroit. The Pistons, meanwhile, play their home games about 40 minutes away in Auburn Hills. I love the Palace. It’s an excellent arena and more than suitable for a professional team to call home, but maybe it’s finally time for Tom Gores to begin crafting a plan to move his team back to the city it has emblazoned across the front of its jersey.
Regardless of where the Pistons are playing their home games, it’s been poor form from fans for going on five seasons now. It is the job of the front office to give fans a reason to want to attend games. There may not have been much to cheer about over the past five seasons, but it’s not like they’re the Charlotte Bobcats, who seem to have tried as hard as they could to set new records for futility on the court. The Pistons were dark horse candidates to make the playoffs prior to each of the past two seasons. There are no more excuses. Chauncey Billups is back. Greg Monroe is coming into his own. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings both play an exciting style of basketball. Andre Drummond – enough said. It’s time to step up and prove you’re still worthy of having an NBA team Detroit fans.