It's difficult to build an NBA arena that stands out from the pack.
In sharp contrast to the sport of baseball — which enables architects to create quirky outfield dimensions and venues that sometimes employ retractable roofs — basketball arenas are inherently similar. Basketball courts always employ the same dimensions, and the arenas themselves always are closed to the elements. Designers also have to squeeze in a lot of functionality into a small land area.
But these arenas are special.
In the days ahead, we'll unveil our picks for the NBA's top 10 arenas.
To arrive at these rankings, we took into account an arena's location, the atmosphere created by the home team's fans, the aesthetics of the exterior, the aesthetics of the interior, its fan-friendliness and its place in the game's history.
This is a wildly subjective list. Hopefully, this will spark some serious debate. Disagree with a ranking? Then chime in with your opinion by writing in the comments field below.
The Palace of Auburn Hills
NBA arena ranking: 10th
Home of: Detroit Pistons
Location: Auburn Hills, Mich.
Capacity for basketball: 22,076
First NBA regular-season game: Nov. 5, 1988
Positives: The Palace is one of the most important venues in NBA history. Really, it is. It helped usher in the luxury-suite age. It brought luxury suites closer to the floor — in some cases just 16 rows up. This set the trend for the arenas that followed and bringing millions of dollars in revenue to teams throughout the league. . . . The Palace is now one of the NBA's oldest venues, but it has aged well. It has undergone $110 million in renovations over the last two-plus decades, including the distinctive West Entrance Atrium, which was finished in 1996. There are courtside lounges, too. . . . The arena also features a very good house band that revs up the fans before tipoff. Gotta love the live music. . . . The exterior is distinctive. . . . The Pistons have won three NBA titles since moving into The Palace, beginning with the famed "Bad Boys" teams of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer andDennis Rodman.
Negatives: There's one huge negative. The Palace pretty much is in the middle of nowhere. It's 30-plus miles northwest of downtown Detroit and about 45 miles from Detroit's busiest airport. . . . Pistons fans can get loud, but they haven't had much to cheer about the last couple of years.
Overall: The Palace receives high marks for its innovative place in the game's history, but it also deserves major demerits for its location.
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