AUBURN HILLS -- Dennis Mannion spoke pointedly and excitedly about a convergence of technology, an upgraded Detroit Pistons product, and an enhanced fan experience.
The president and CEO of Palace Sports and Entertainment doesn't talk about ticket sales just in terms of raw gate, which hasn't been pretty here in recent years.
He talks about tapping new fan sources, and a cutting-edge effort to identify who's buying and why.
"That new fan base," Mannion said, "is starting to feel some of the edginess and coolness of this brand again."
Mannion, who has executive-level experience in all four U.S. major sports leagues and was president and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers before coming here in 2011, doesn't softshoe the daunting task of selling the Pistons to a soured fan base.
But he has emphasized throughout his tenure here that Pistons attendance only would improve when the roster did, and said there were upticks in preseason sales with each significant piece of summer news this year. Chauncey Billups' return produced a noticeable spike, Mannion said.
Mostly, fans buy because they see promise.
"As time's gone by, if you were tallying why are people buying, they're buying on the potential of Greg (Monroe) and Andre (Drummond), and they're buying on the new guys, they're buying on (Brandon) Jennings and (Josh) Smith," Mannion said.
To help close the 8,000-seat gap between the Pistons' average attendance and their arena capacity last season, the team brought in a group-sales specialist. Mannion said the Pistons expect a "substantial spike" to about 2,000 fans per game from group sales in 2013-14.
"Group is big. It's a great doorway in. It's maybe one of the best ways to test the product," Mannion said.
It also is a more palatable pitch to dubious fans who might attend with church, school or work friends, then eventually turn into multi-game buyers.
"When you compare it to season-ticket sales, I do think that people aren't going to bite off the whole full-season apple until they see that the team is producing on a regular basis," Mannion said. "But I do think they're willing to buy into the 10-game plan and we've seen a spike in halves. We've seen a spike in full, to be honest with you.
"But I think it's going to be a prove-yourself type of thing in the season-ticket space. With the group, there's so much more for us to deliver."
Much of the sales focus is on social media, which is particularly important with the well-wired Palace crowds.
The arena had a new WiFi system installed this summer by Ericsson, whose traffic reports indicated that more than one-fourth of the audience at a July 20 Beyonce concert used it, and that the percentage of attendees using it at the first two concerts since installation exceeded those at the Super Bowl and other major sports and concert events.
The Pistons' followers on their official Twitter page, @detroitpistons, doubled within the last year, to 192,000, and the team ranked ninth in the NBA last month for average daily unique visitors to official website Pistons.com.
The Pistons' mobile app has led the NBA in percentage growth over the last three months, and has more than 30,000 downloads, while their Facebook fans have surpassed 500,000, according to media representive Kevin Grigg.
How can the Pistons twist those numbers to their advantage?
One way is to target fans who congregate together on line but don't know each other for group packages.
"That's a new piece of territory we can get into," Mannion said.
Using their own social media networks for what Mannion termed a "win-back" campaign added more than 5,000 fans to the team's database this summer. Another such effort, launching early October, will be tied to ticket offers, which the first one wasn't.
After that, Mannion said he looks ahead to "the next step in metrics": The ability to quantify specifically how many new sales each social-media platform generates.
Better understanding the specific constitution of Pistons crowds could send the team into even more targeted directions in entertainment offerings and promotion planning.
"Gosh, the implications," Mannion mused.