Detroit Pistons: One year later, fans are returning to LCA. What’s next?

A general view of the empty Little Caesars Arena during the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
A general view of the empty Little Caesars Arena during the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Fans of the Detroit Pistons fans are slowly coming back.

One of the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic was the sports and entertainment industry. Last March, most sports leagues either shut down or postponed their seasons.

Since leagues resumed competition, fans have not been allowed to return to games in full capacity. In the time being, all sports leagues have been scrambling for a solution to get as many fans back into their stadiums in a safe manner.

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Ever since the Detroit Pistons 2019-20 season abruptly ended on March 7, 2020, against the Utah Jazz, fans have been itching to return to games and watch their hometown team compete.

Throughout the current NBA season, more than half of the teams have allowed fans back into their arenas, with the most being Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic with 4,000 fans. Most recently, our very own Detroit Pistons have joined that list!

Starting on March 17th, Michigan Governor Grethen Whitmer, announced that 750 fans will be allowed to enter Little Caesars Arena once again to watch the Detroit Pistons play basketball. After a year hiatus, fans will be able to watch the Pistons live. This time, however, things will be different both for the fans and for the Pistons.

Detroit Pistons: Fans are adjusting to the new normal

For the fans, strict guidelines have been placed including requiring all fans above the age of two to wear a mask and mandatory health screening a day before the matchup.

With regards to the Pistons, the team the fans will be watching will look very different from the team that played their last home game one year ago today. First-year general manager Troy Weaver has disassembled the roster and built one with the future in mind.

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Earlier this year, Derrick Rose was traded to the New York Knicks in exchange for point guard Dennis Smith Jr. On top of that, after not suiting up for the past number of weeks, the Detroit Pistons and Blake Griffin agreed to a buyout ending his time with the Pistons.

Even with top draft pick Killian Kayes out with a hip injury, Weaver has already proven himself with draft picks Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, and Saben Lee all have been impressive in their rookie campaigns. Free-agent acquisitions Jerami Grant has vaulted himself to the top of the Most Improved Player award list, while Mason Plumlee has been playing well.

While the news of the Pistons opening up the stadium is exciting to fans, it should leave them asking a question: what is next for fans and the spectating experience? This is only the first step on the path to packed stadiums of fans all around the world.

For the better part of the modern sports era, business operations and fans, the two major parties in sports viewership, have never found a medium for communication. With people in the business operations sector working tirelessly to get fans back into stadiums safely, they are missing insights from the most important people: the fans.

The fans themselves can provide valuable insight through things like the Fan Panel, which will allow them to have some say in how teams eventually return to normal.

Using strict guidelines for viewership that most venues are enforcing in their own way was the first step in the right direction. But as the pandemic continues and more fans return to venues, the most vital step will be keeping fans safe throughout the whole process.

Innovative ideas like the fan panel are only the beginning of news approaches that will be taken by people in the sports industry.

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