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2016-2017 home opener could be beginning of end for The Palace

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Pistons could move to downtown Detroit as early as next season.

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Tonight might not just be the home opener for the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills, but the last home opener at the Palace.

Reports have surfaced from Crains Detroit, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press on possible relocation for the Pistons that not only seems likely but imminent — as in as early as next season.

There are still several major issues that need to be worked out for the Pistons to move to downtown Detroit for the first time in 40 years. They would play their games at the still under construction Little Caesars Arena.

Pistons owner Tom Gores doesn’t want to simply be a tenant of Mike Ilitch’s new arena but more of a co-owner. One of the major sticking points, reportedly, is how Ilitch and Gores would split revenue, and the other primary concern for the Pistons is finding a site that would be suitable to build a new practice facility.

There is no official word on when the Pistons might make the move but The Detroit News reports a public announcement could be made in the “coming weeks or months.”

Vince Ellis at the Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, indicates moving in time for next season is not off the table.

Recently, it was reported that Oakland County rejected an offer from Gores’ Platinum Equity to buy the Palace for $370 million. The venue is a popular location for concerts and other events throughout the year.

That means Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 could be the final opening night the Pistons spend at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a building they’ve called home since 1988 and home to three NBA championships.

It also remains one of the best arenas in the NBA and was completely privately financed by former Pistons owner Bill Davidson. In an era of sports owners fleecing local taxpayers (Little Caesar’s Arena is a more modest example of this), the Palace is truly a symbol of a bygone era.