SBJ/Sept. 1-7, 2014/Franchises

Ping me at the Palace: Pistons add tech

The Detroit Pistons plan to roll out a series of initiatives inside the Palace of Auburn Hills for the coming season in hopes of reviving interest in a club that ranked near the bottom of the NBA in attendance last year.

Among the new offerings, the Pistons are adding iBeacon technology inside the arena to let fans who have the team’s smartphone app receive specific merchandise and concessions offers when they attend games. Detroit joins Golden State and Orlando as NBA teams featuring the technology.

The Pistons also are upgrading their Wi-Fi system to customize fan communication inside the arena. Once fans access the system, they will receive offers based on where they are sitting.

“We can customize offers or ads,” said Charlie Metzger, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the Pistons. “The messaging in the courtside club is different to guests than in other areas.”

The Pistons are revamping their fan-loyalty program, as well. That program, launched last season, will now give fans who have downloaded the team app on their smartphones the opportunity to upgrade their seats and buy arena-experience packages, such as postgame shots on the court, from their seats during games.

The enhancements are all part of a digital overhaul throughout the arena, team officials said. The effort follows a season in which Detroit’s attendance averaged 15,025, up 1.6 percent from 2012-13 but still ranked 26th in the 30-team NBA and well below the league average of 17,408. 

The Pistons also made an executive change this offseason, hiring Stan Van Gundy as their coach and president of basketball operations.

Detroit last year sold 5,000 full-season-equivalent ticket packages. Metzger would not disclose how many new ticket packages the team has sold so far this year, but he did say the team is “trending above where we were a year go.”

“We have an 80 percent renewal rate,” Metzger said, “and we are optimistic with the changes we made with Stan Van Gundy and the [recent] schedule release.”

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