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Located on the edge of downtown Dallas in Victory Park, the American Airlines Center (AAC) is home to the Dallas Stars as well as the defending 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. It opened in 2001 and still looks brand new, making it one of the better venues to watch a top-notch sporting event.
From the outside, the stadium is very impressive. As you drive north on I-35E, the AAC majestically appears on your right. It could be an old train station or airport terminal, and with the naming rights purchased by American, the locals often refer to it as "The Hangar" because of its unique design.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Food and drink options are plentiful and there are concessions everywhere on both concourses. I had an Italian sausage ($6) from Sheriff Blaylock's which I would recommend; it was piled high with peppers and onions and made for a full meal for the three hours I was there. Other well-known stands include Bubba Burger, High Steaks, and the State Fair with Floyd's Catfish Basket. Prices are a bit high, but not exorbitant.
There are a few full-service restaurants such as the Audi Club and the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Club, which has two distinct sections, one a large sports bar, the other a low-key buffet. The el Jimador Tequila Bar is where you go to partake in the Mexican classic, while families will prefer the alcohol-free Dr Pepper Bottling Plant which serves traditional arena fare.
Between the two concourses are the suites, which have their own specialty eateries. The AAC opens the fan shops and platinum doors two hours before game time with the rest of the facility opening 30 minutes after that. I'd suggest getting there as early as possible to try as much of the culinary delights as possible.
After the game, I paid a visit to the nearby Fan Sports Lounge, which is a large sports bar that contains the radio booth for local sports station The Fan 105.3. Good service was offered here despite wearing my visiting team jersey.
The game I attended featured the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs and this helped the atmosphere immensely as the Stars achieved their first sellout of the season. The home fans were in greater numbers but on several occasions the Toronto faithful were able to generate a "Go Leafs Go" chant.
The arena is small enough and the upper deck seats close enough that it keeps fans in the game. The scoreboard had a few "Noise" buttons and generally did a reasonable job of keeping fans entertained during the breaks in the action.
Despite being a decade old, the arena is still sparkling and this really made a difference for me in terms of enjoying the evening.
The arena is located on the northwest end of downtown, just a few blocks away from tourist attractions such as the Sixth Floor Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art. There is nothing notable north of the arena however.
This location makes it perfect for a full day in the city; the morning and afternoon spent checking out the local sights before moving to the arena for that night's affair.
After the game, fans dispersed fairly quickly and there wasn't much going on in the immediate vicinity, although I didn't venture farther than the sports bar I mentioned earlier.
The local fans were kind to me even though I was sporting the opposition colors. However, they lose points for not drowning out the Leafs' fans when they began to chant.
They seemed knowledgeable about the game and cheered at the right times and many were dressed in Dallas garb. Most importantly, there was no attempt to do the wave.
I suppose for me I was expecting more animosity from the Stars' supporters, but given these two teams are not historical rivals, I should not be surprised.
There are entrances on each side of the building, but it is the south side that includes AT&T Plaza, which is where various events are held and a large screen shows highlights and other videos both before and after the game.
There is plenty of parking around the stadium for $15. I drove around a bit before the game and didn't find any free parking in the immediate vicinity. There is also transit available, with DART's Victory station mere steps away from the stadium.
The two seating levels are separated by the luxury boxes and club seats. The concourses are spacious enough and allow you to walk around the entire building on both levels.
In the seating bowl, there was plenty of room and I didn't feel crowded or have to sidle past my neighbors when taking my seat.
Tickets for hockey are not cheap but not ridiculously overpriced, particularly for the upper deck. I found a seat in the third row at the blueline for $45 which was more than reasonable. Considering that lower bowl seats range from $70 to $300, the upper bowl is the better choice. Sightlines from here were perfectly fine. The Stars also have the occasional ticket specials if they are struggling during the season, so check their website in advance.
The Stars put on a good show and I felt like I got my money's worth; I hope to return and spend more time exploring the area and the arena.
There are few bells and whistles once inside. On the lower concourse, one atrium has some small model AA airplanes hanging, and there is a cool exhibit illustrating just how high Dirk Nowitzki can reach when he jumps (138") that allows you to test your vertical leap as well.
The end zones have scoreboards that show other statistics on a continuous basis, something that I really appreciate and that other rinks should adopt. Face off, hits, and giveaway stats make a difference when watching and analyzing the game.
The Stanley Cup was in the house as the Stars had it brought to town for a local tournament. It was at Cowboys Stadium the day before and then here, drawing a line of fans who wanted a picture of themselves with Lord Stanley.
Overall, the AAC is an excellent venue for hockey. There isn't a lot of history yet, but they do have plenty of banners celebrating their success, including that one Stanley Cup banner that Buffalo fans refuse to acknowledge. Unfortunately the Mavericks banner had yet to be raised due to the lockout, which coincidentally had ended that very evening.
The venue is extremely clean, the staff are friendly, and the fans were nice, even to a visiting team supporter like myself. If you haven't been here, put it on your stadium journey bucket list.
Completed in 2001, The American Airlines Center is the second home of the Dallas Stars, after Reunion Arena. It is located just north of Dallas' Historic West End District, and is also home to the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA.
Colloquially referred to as the "A-A-C", it was built as a joint effort by the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars, supplemented by the Dallas city tax payers. The design, like so many modern sports facilities, is geared toward the luxury suite and corporate dollars while at the same time offering an excellent viewing experience in the less expensive "300 level".
Although approaching its 10th year, the building remains a premium facility that is cared for meticulously. Recent upgrades to the arena's ribbon display board, end displays, and central scoreboard provide Stars fans with one of the finest game presentations in the league. At the time of their installation, July 2009, the new scoreboards were the world's largest full high definition 1080p video boards in a basketball/hockey stadium.
Top notch facilities and a winning tradition make the American Airlines Center a great place to come see a Stars game.
2200 Victory Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
400 N Olive St
Dallas, TX 75201