Back to hockey-arenas in the USA
Beginning with the 2001/2002 campaign the Dallas Stars will move from the old Reunion Arena to the new American Airlines Arena in Dallas. If any visitor of this page has been to the new arena and would like to share some pictures or experiences please e-mail me.
In the early 80´s the city of Dallas build an at that time modern multi-purpose arena close to the inner city. With this the infrastructure for professional hockey and basketball created the search for teams began.
While Dallas was part of the NBA´s expansion-plans hockey came to the southern state from Minnessota, where the Minnesouta North Stars where plagued by bad management, an outdated arena (the Target Center) and a low level of corportate support.
Obviously Texas might not be the most hockey-crazed state of the USA, but after hockey had a descent amount of success in non-traditional markets such as Los Angeles few doubted that the Dallas Stars would succedin Big-D. During their first two seasons in Dallas the Stars managed to play in front of sold out crowds night in and night out. When the team slipped in the standings in 95-96 and the team missed the playoffs the fans also started to stay away, but even then Reunion Arena was filled to about 80% for most games, even though it might be important to add that the ticket-prices were rather low by NHL-standards in those days.
Ever since the team came flying out of training-camp in 96-97 and started the season with a seven-game-winning streak the team has been a huge success on and off the ice. With a Stanley Cup in 1999, a trip to the finals in 2000 and four division titles in a row the Stars emerged as one of the top-teams of the late 90s. The fans also started to get back into the game and the continuously disastrous shape of the Dallas Mavericks probably helped a bit, too (the Dallas Cowboys also started to fade). For the first time since 1993-1994 waiting-lists had to be set up for season tickets and for the past three seasons almost all games were sold out.
As in most other cities with rather old arenas the Stars and Mavericks also tried to
negotiate a deal for a new home with themselves and the city of Dallas over the last
couple of seasons. The low capacity, the absence of good corporate seating and the
mediocre VIP-area are problems for both teams (well, the capacity is no real problem for
the Mavericks at most games due to a low turnout in general), and after several years of
discussions and constructions the new American Airlines Arena will open up for the
2001/2002-season. Under the current deal both teams will shell in 50 million dollars and
the city of Dallas will pay the remaining sum of the 300+ million-dollar facility which
promises to be one of the best arenas worldwide (even with internet-access from each seat
(if you bring your own device)). Compared to the 27 millions the city of Dallas had to pay
for the Reunion Arena in the 80s one can easily talk about a nice price-increase and I can
only hope that ticket-prices will not skyrocket as a consequence.
Tips for visitors:
The Reunion Arena is located just at the outside of the downtown-area, pretty close to Dallas´entertainment district where you can expect to see quiet a large number of hockey-jerseys running around after each game (Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood all in the area). If you travel by car Reunion Arena should be easy to access. There is a highway-ring around the downtown area with exits for the arena so even if you have no idea where the arena might be you will have it at least at the end of lap 1. There is more than enough parking around the arena to both sides of the highway, parking should cost 6 dollars, at least that was the going-rate when I was there for the last time. If you come from out of town please be advised to have enough time to crawl through the eveing-traffic, 60 miles per hour might not be that realistic on the highways at that time.
With the current success it should come as no suprise that tickets are pretty hard to get. Try to get them as early in advance as possible, but with more than 14.000 season-tickets sold only a small number remains for the public sale. Due to the small size of the arena all seats have a good view on the ice, even the cheapest seats (30 dollars) are a lot closer to the ice than in most other arenas (maybe also due to the absence of corporate suits between the levels).
All in all the arena is not really considerable overwhelmingly nice so I doubt that many Stars-fans will loose a tear when the team moves after the 2000/2001-season. If you plan a trip to Dallas and don´t have a date set in mind just wait until Reunion Arena is closed. It´s maybe tough to have missed a game at Boston Garden or Chicago Stadium but Reunion Arena is not a place one has to visit in his liftetime in order to die in peace.
Ticket-prices in general are pretty high at the moment, things will probably only get
worse after the move to the American Airlines arena. 5 years ago it was rather cheap and
the team fought for a playoff-spot, with Modano, Hull and Belfour on the payroll the team
is hunting for cups now, but as a fan you´re a part of the team, also of it´s
Links to the team:
Homepage of the Dallas Stars: www.dallasstars.com
Dallas Morning News (rather good Stars-coverage): www.dallasmorningnews.com
Fanpage of the Dallas Stars: http://andrews.hockeytexas.com
(Andrew's Dallas Stars Page)