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MHSAA laments loss of Palace for wrestling PHOTO GALLERY

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Individual finals have been at Auburn Hills since 2002

Count the Michigan High School Athletic Association among those sorry to see the shuttering of The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The MHSAA held individual wrestling finals at the Palace every winter from 2002 through 2017, but must find a different venue for 2018 and beyond since that arena’s chief occupant, the Detroit Pistons, is headed to downtown Detroit.

“We are crying our hearts out over the loss of The Palace of Auburn Hills,” Jack Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA, said in a recent interview. “We loved that place. It was well managed by our staff and their staff.

“It is literally a palace. Our individual wrestling finals fit it so well. We liked it there. We had great attendance there.”

The Palace opened in 1988. In the fall, the Pistons will begin playing at the Little Caesars Arena, which is under construction a short distance from the Fox Theater and Comerica Park.

“We are very, very sad that our contract (with the Palace) won’t be honored to 2019,” Roberts said. “They have told us that there will be no events there after September of this year.

“Even if the Palace is still standing, they won’t be hosting events.”

Individual wrestling finals were split between Battle Creek (Divisions 1 and 2) and Kalamazoo (3 and 4) in 1998.

The finals were at Joe Louis Arena from 1999-2001, and then came the move to Auburn Hills.

“Years ago,” Roberts said, “the criticism of the Palace was that it didn’t have access to enough hotels. But every deficiency it might have had 15 years ago is gone.

“Now the place has never looked better, never operated better, than it does today. The thought that they (might) bulldoze it down is just a world I don’t understand.”

The individual wrestling finals might eventually be held at Little Caesars Arena, Roberts said.

“But it’s not available to use right away,” he said.

“In the interim, we’re going to look at things such as Ford Field for a two-day final. We’re looking at Van Andel Arena (in Grand Rapids) for a final. But it’s very much up in the air and not settled.”

Team wrestling finals, held the week before the individual championships, were at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena in 2016 and 2017.

“We would like to stay at Central Michigan University,” Roberts said. “There are some issues there. We hope to solve them.

“We solved some of them. We need to solve more of them in order to make it our permanent home. We like it there.”

The 2018 team finals are scheduled for Feb. 23-24, and the individual finals are scheduled for March 1-3.

Last Updated: 4/10/2017 7:36:26 PM EST