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  • Writer's pictureMichael Davis

American Airlines Center – Dallas Stars

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

American Airlines Center 2500 Victory Ave Dallas, TX 75219

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 18,532


Stars Shine Bright in Dallas

American Airlines Center (AAC) is a multi-use arena located in the Victory Park area, which is just north of the historic West End in downtown Dallas. The venue is home to the Dallas Stars of the NHL and the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. AAC, as it is commonly referred to by local sports fans, opened in 2001, replacing the outdated Reunion Arena. The venue is made of brick, limestone, and granite with signature arches, and costs $420 million to build.

American Airlines Center is the primary venue in the Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW) area hosting year-round sporting events and live entertainment. The seating capacity for hockey is 18,532, or up to 19,323 including standing room. American Airlines Center hosted the 55th NHL All-Star game in 2007.

Food & Beverage 4

There is no shortage of food or beverages when attending an event at American Airlines Center. It doesn’t matter if your tickets are on the lower, platinum, or upper level; you’ll find something to satisfy your appetite. However, the prices will be the typically inflated stadium/arena prices. Nevertheless, there are a few game days specials that could save a couple of dollars. The best choice is the small soda for $4 or the $7 bottomless popcorn if you just want a snack (regular popcorn costs almost as much and doesn’t come with refills).

There is an abundance of concessions stands throughout the arena, including Big Dawgs, Pizza Hut, Fast Break, Taco Bueno, Grilled Zone, High Steaks, Hot Popped and Twisted, Bubba Burger, BBQ Stampede, and Motley’s Pub. In addition, if none of the above satisfies your appetite there is also Market to Go, which offers fresh deli sandwiches, vegetarian options, tossed salads, and bottled beer. To see the incredible variety that American Airlines Center offers when it comes to food service, please visit their concessions website.

There are numerous alcohol selections inside American Airlines Center, not just at the concession stands, but also at specialty beer bars such as the Texas Beer Bar, which serves Ziegenbock, St Arnold’s, Fireman’s 4, and Franconia. In addition, there is the Blue Moon Bar, which offers all the Blue Moon products, as well as Import and Craft bars with beers from around the world, such as Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (OR), Goose Island (Chicago), Brooklyn Lager (NY), Alaskan Amber (AK), Kirin Ichiban (Japan), and Stone Arrogant Bastard (CA). The prices all range from $10 to 15 dollars depending on size; Woodbridge wine is also sold for $10 a glass.

Besides alcohol, Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper products are also offered, with prices of $6 for the regular size and $10 for the bottomless souvenir cup.

In addition to the concessions stands and specialty bars, American Airlines Center features full-service restaurants – the most popular would-be Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club, which is full service with outdoor seating and is located on the southeast corner; however, you’ll need an event ticket to enter this restaurant. The Club opens 2 hours before all Stars games, allowing you to relax before the game, and is a sports bar with food such as brisket, wings, nachos, and other sports bar favorites, but there is a separate area inside the Old No. 7 Club on the lower level that provides a more global dining experience.

Another restaurant option inside the arena is Terrace Taproom, a brand-new space that features a large array of local craft beers along with a variety of bratwursts; this restaurant is located outside section 305. Alternatively, platinum-level seating will grant you access to the rest of the unique bars here at American Airlines Center, such as Lexus Platinum Club, Arrangement Club, and Chef’s Corner.

Despite all the options at American Airlines Center, just like any arena, the best option is to eat before or after the event, as there are plenty of great restaurant options in and around Dallas.

Atmosphere 3

The atmosphere begins before American Airlines Center’s doors even open, on the south side of the arena in AT&T Plaza @ Victory Park. On this plaza, there are games, music, and just a festive atmosphere overall. There are also several video displays mounted on the side of the arena and on nearby office buildings, which allow the plaza to be used for outdoor events such as Dallas’ New Year’s Eve party.

Once inside American Airlines Center, there are free programs and other giveaways for fans after passing through the facility’s metal detectors. Many fans arrive early to watch the players warm up, especially opposing team fans, who gather around the visiting team’s entrance onto the ice. The Stars fans are also loyal, vocal, and knowledgeable, and thus are always into the game.

The introduction for the Dallas Stars includes a smoking neon green star, through which the players come onto the ice. Once the lights come on the national anthems are sung by local favorite Celena Rae. Just like Baltimore Orioles fans, Stars fans emphasize the word in the national anthem relating to their team, so the word ‘stars’ is yelled by the fans when it is sung during the anthem. There are also the NHL traditional ceremonial puck drops, as well as the promotional events in-between periods, such as human bowling, where a fan on a sled gets pushed toward a bunch of pins. In addition, you can find Stars gear at the Stars pro shop, which is named “The Hangar”.

When the Stars are in the playoffs and American Airlines Center is packed with Stars fans, the atmosphere can be electrifying, especially with the “Let’s Go Stars” chants. While those nights have been few and far between since their 1999 Stanley Cup season, there are always those special occasions, or opposing teams, that bring the Stars faithful out in full force. When the Stars become competitive and are regularly in the post-season, that type of atmosphere will return on a more regular basis.

Neighborhood 5

American Airlines Center is located on the northwest edge of downtown Dallas, just a short walk from Dallas’ Historic West End. The West End area consists of a list of restaurants such as Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse, Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, Gator’s, TGI Friday’s, Spaghetti Warehouse, Hard Rock Cafe, Dick’s Last Resort, and House of Blues. Besides restaurants, the area also has tourist attractions – the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Sixth Floor Museum, and Holocaust Museum are all within the West End.

Just outside the south entrance of the arena is Victory Plaza. This plaza consists of a few shops, but Hero has massive digs for food and drinks, while on the east side of the arena, across from the ticket booth and next to the Lexus parking garage, is Mio Nonno Trattoria – these are good options if you want to hang out outside the arena. If you don’t mind a little walk, then there is Mesero, a very good Mexican restaurant, and Billy Can-Can, a place for dinner and cocktails. The Dallas/Fort Worth area provides one of the largest urban centers in the United States – within a short drive there are plenty of amazing restaurants and attractions to explore while visiting the Metroplex.

Dallas has numerous lodging options around American Airlines Center, especially in the Market Center area (only 2 miles north of ACC). Some of the hotels to consider are the W Dallas Victory, Renaissance Dallas Hotel, Doubletree Market Center, Holiday Inn Dallas Market Center, and the Hilton Anatole.

Fans 3

The Dallas Stars operate in an area where football and the Dallas Cowboys are the leading topics of conversation in the local sports scene. However, no fans are more loyal to their team than Dallas Stars fans. While the average attendance at American Airlines Center falls in the middle of the league, considering that the team is in a warm climate in a football-crazed state, that level of attendance is a very good testament to the solid fan base.

Dallas Stars fans are knowledgeable, fun, and love their Stars because true hockey fans seem to have a true loyalty to the sport. Although the team has had some down years since their last championship in 1999, their fans show support at the box office. While the Stars are currently in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the NHL, a consistent playoff-bound team on the ice will bring DFW fans to AAC – this will produce an increase in attendance, along with sellout games.

Access 3

American Airlines Center is one of the better downtown venues when it comes to parking, with about 5,000 parking spaces available for guests. The parking lots open two hours before the start of a Stars game, and both cash and credit cards are accepted at American Airlines Center-managed lots, with prices from $15 to $25. Also, while the Lexus Garage across from the box office is primarily reserved for season ticket holders, there may be limited space for $25. And if the parking garages are not available, there is also parking around the arena a short walk away – the best parking option is the popular West End area, where you can enjoy a pregame meal before a short walk to the arena. But the best way to save money and time when attending a Stars game is to plan using American Airlines Center’s parking website.

The most economical way to get to American Airlines Center is public transportation. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Trinity Rail Express (TRE) provide regular service to Victory Station, which is located on the west side of American Airlines Center. These two transportation services can get you to the arena from anywhere in the Dallas area, including DFW Airport and Fort Worth. In addition to their regular schedule, the TRE runs a special event train that leaves Victory Station 20 minutes after the end of the game, so you won’t have to miss the ending to catch the train. There is also a location for Uber pick-up on the west side of American Airlines Center, while taxis can best be found towards the W Hotel, at the corner of Olive Street and N. Houston.

The venue doors open 1 1/2 hours before the puck drops. Once you arrive at American Airlines Center four main entrances provide quick entry into the building. The south side entrance is accessible from Victory Plaza, which is where pre-event activities take place, while the west side entrance caters to public transportation, including Uber, taxis, and drop-offs. The north and east entrances are primarily used by patrons from the parking garage, or those who need the box office; the American Airlines Center box office is located on the northeast corner of the arena.

The concourse inside the arena is well-marked and spacious, and you’ll easily notice elevators providing access to the Platinum Club, suites, and upper-level seating. The stairs inside American Airlines Center are in the corners of the building, and provide access between the levels, as do the elevators.

Return on Investment 3

American Airlines Center has wonderful sight lines, so anywhere in the arena will have a good view of the rink. However, Stars tickets aren’t exactly as affordable as going to a Texas Rangers game would be – the Dallas Stars ticket office uses flex pricing, which leads to different prices depending on the visiting team, day, and demand for each game. This flex ticket pricing is a strategy for teams to make more money on popular games, and to fill more seats for lower-demand games, so weekend games/popular opponents can double the cost of your ticket. However, this type of pricing also provides good value for the casual fan during weekday games against non-popular teams; the best way to avoid these price hikes is to become a season ticket holder of some type.

Single game tickets to Dallas Stars games run between $20 and $75 in the Upper Terrace, with Lower Bowl tickets ranging from $75 for Plaza Seating to $540 on the glass, but it is possible to find more affordable seats when buying from various third parties. As with the rest of the NHL, ticket prices for all playoff games will be higher compared to the regular season. That said, a night out to a Stars game may seem over the top, but compared to the rest of the NHL the Stars are one of the better values.

Extras 4

The American Airlines Center has been the home of the Dallas Stars for almost 2 decades. The venue is one of the best sports venues in America due to the venue’s event operations, game day staff, and overall maintenance of the facility, which help to enhance the experience.

The experience begins as soon as you walk into the concourse and see the trophy case showing the different trophies awarded by the NHL to Dallas Stars players, including a replica of the Lord Stanley Cup. Also, every Stars' pregame honors the military, with a military member being recognized on the ice before the national anthem.

During the game, the Stars mascot, a furry green alien with hockey sticks for antennae named Victor E. Green, walks around the American Airlines Center greeting fans. In addition, during breaks in the action the in-game host and national anthem singer, Celena Rae, oversee fan contests, and the Dallas Stars Ice Girls are either clearing the ice during timeouts or dancing on a platform in the lower bowl.

The end zones also have scoreboards that show other statistics continuously, such as the number of faceoffs, hits, and giveaways, which enhances the game day atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

American Airlines Center is one of the finest sports venues in America, located in a great city and home to a hockey organization that seems committed to being in Dallas for a long time. The only thing American Airlines Center needs to be rated in the upper tier of NHL venues is for the Stars to become more competitive regularly. However, a visit to American Airlines Center to watch the Stars play is a wonderful way to spend an evening in Dallas.

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