American Airlines Center

March 16, 1999

By Robert Ingrassia / The Dallas Morning News

Dallas’ new arena will bear the name of Fort-Worth based American Airlines under a deal struck between the airline and developers, sources familiar with the transaction said Monday.

The arena, tentatively set for completion in fall 2001, will be called American Airlines Center, the sources said. A ceremony announcing the name is set for Thursday.

Terms of the deal were unavailable Monday.

Dallas’ arena will be the second major sports facility to bear the American Airlines name. The airline agreed to pay $40 million over 20 years to put its name on the American Airlines Arena in Miami, home of the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat.

American Airlines officials declined to comment about the deal Monday.

“We talk to a lot of people about a lot of things,” spokesman Al Becker said.

Dallas Mavericks owner Ross Perot Jr. declined to comment Monday during a Mavericks game at Reunion Arena. Mr. Perot is chairman of Hillwood Development Corp., a real-estate development company building the new arena.

The naming contract won’t be the first business relationship between Hillwood and American Airlines. The airline operates a major airplane maintenance center at Alliance, a Fort Worth business park created by Hillwood.

Arena officials have declined to discuss the naming-rights contract negotiations, saying only that they were speaking with “multiple” major corporations. Cellular phone maker Nokia, a Finnish company, was among those firms, sources have said.

Recent naming-rights deals have topped $100 million. Last month, Phillips Electronics signed a 20-year, $180 million deal for Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The Internet company PSINet is paying $104 million over 20 years for PSINet Stadium in Baltimore.

In Dallas, the sports teams and related firms will keep all the revenue from the naming contract. The city, which is paying $125 million toward the $230 million arena, waived any claim on such revenue in its arena agreement with the teams.

The announcement ceremony will be at the arena site, a former industrial tract along Stemmons Freeway north of downtown Dallas.

The naming deal means Dallas-based Southwest Airlines may be shut out of the new arena. Industry analysts said that under most naming contracts, the company paying for the name gets to block its rivals from advertising in the sports facility.

At Reunion, Southwest has its logo in several locations outside and inside the arena.

Mayor Ron Kirk said Monday night he would “not be surprised” if the American name was selected but declined to comment before getting a formal confirmation.

City Council member Donna Blumer, who helped lead a campaign against the city’s arena plan, said the name is not important.

“I knew it was coming because the city gave away the naming rights to the owners, which I think was a crying shame,” Ms. Blumer said. “That could have been the city’s money and could have gone back to the taxpayers.”

Staff writer Jason Sickles contributed to this report.

March 9, 1998 – DMore writes: The Mavericks and Stars have signed a new agreement with the City of Dallas to build a new sports arena about a mile north of existing Reunion Arena. The current projection is to open in Aug. 2000. It will have club seats and luxury boxes. Total cost about $230million,
paid for $125 million by City and $105 from the two teams. Any and all cost overruns are responsibility of the Teams. Teams will co-lease from the City for $3.4m per year for 30 years. Teams keep all revenues and are responsible for all costs of operations and maintenance.

Dallas Citizens voted to approve two new taxes to support the project, a 2 percent hotel tax and a five percent car rental tax. The City will use these two sources of revenue, plus the rental payments for the teams, to issue bonds to pay its $125m. No property or sales taxes or any other source of City revenue is to be used.

July 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

The City of Dallas will pay $11.5 million for seven acres of land near the new American Airlines Center needed for its construction. The purchase comes after land owners sued the city over the offered price. In return, the land owners will drop their lawsuits against the city. The city will also be reimbursed for its expenses by Hillwood Development Corp, the development company planning office, retail and residential projects in the area. A portion of the land will be used for roads leading to the arena.

July 29, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

The Dallas Mavericks this week unveiled their plans for the new $325 million American Airlines Center scheduled to open in 2001. The venue will have 1,600 club seats and 144 luxury suites. It will hold 18,000 for Dallas Stars’ hockey games and 19,200 for basketball. It will also have a women’s locker room in hopes that the Mavericks win a WNBA franchise. The arena will feature a club exclusively for the use of American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club members. The club is for the airline’s frequent customers. American Airlines paid $195 million over 30 years to have its name on a new downtown Dallas

Ross Perot Jr., owner of the Mavericks, and Tom Hicks, owner of the Stars, will develop 50 acres around the arena with hotels, restaurants, stores and office space. Work on two buildings will begin immediately.

The arena is 10% larger than preliminary plans and its cost is $100 million more. Suites will lease for $125,000 to $300,000 a year. The club seats will feature in-seat wait service and access to private clubs. The venue will have 164 concession stands.

November 4, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

Developers of the American Airlines Arena and the City of Dallas are sponsoring a contest for art to be used in and around the new venue. Artists will be asked to submit
proposals for the arena’s facade, interior concourse, outdoor sidewalks and southern plaza. The plaza itself is also part of the proposal. Up to $3 million will be available for
the winning designers.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 20 with winners to be announced in February. The 20,000-seat arena opens in 2001.


By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell

American Airlines Center Ranking by USRT
Architecture 9
Concessions 8.5
Scoreboard 9
Ushers 5
Fan Support 7
Location 6.5
Banners/History 5
Entertainment 6
Concourses/Fan Comfort 8.5
Bonus: Mark Cuban (Funky Owner) 3
Total Score 67.5

December 29, 2001 & December 31, 2001 – With the extreme weather situation here in Buffalo last week, we figured there was no way
they would get our airport open in time for us to catch a plane and make it to Dallas for our
weekend slate of games. Would 82 inches of snow stop the Ultimate Sports Road Trip? NOT
A CHANCE! Undaunted, we tanked up the car, challenged the driving bans, and pointed our
way south. We made it to Cleveland/Hopkins Airport, made our connecting flight, and got
down to Dallas in time to keep our plans intact. Whew! We haven’t even started yet and
already another story to tell!

Dallas’ sparkling new arena just opened in late summer of 2001, and is the new home for
the NHL Dallas Stars and NBA Dallas Mavericks, and will also be the home venue of the
Arena Football expansion Desperados come 2002. Built at a jumbo cost of $420 million, the
money spent here really shows in terms of aesthetics, opulence, technology and is clearly a
marvel to see and experience.

Getting to the Venue

The American Airlines Center is located on the northern fringes of downtown, and is
accessible via several expressway spurs, including I-30, I-35E, US 75 and the Tollway, all
converging downtown. Most of the parking immediately surrounding the arena, including a
huge parking ramp, is sold on a permit basis only, but plentiful cash parking can be found 2
blocks south at a cost of $8-$10. DART, the area’s light rail line, runs service from the center
of downtown right to the arena.


Outside the Venue

The Center is part of a 72 acre north end redevelopment site, which will include housing,
office and retail and in effect create an entire neighborhood for the arena. At this point,
one new condo complex is open directly to the south. Other parcels are marked off with
blue fencing. Despite the openness of surrounding lands, the grounds around the building
are beautiful, especially on the south side with a huge public plaza/walkway, complete with
fountains, benches, mood lighting. The arena itself makes a bold architectural statement,
with its light brick facade, dramatic arches and entry ways on all four sides, plenty of glass
and a castle like appearance. The building denotes sheer size and strength and emulates
those qualities which personify the state of Texas.


Plenty to do in downtown Dallas, with the historic West End entertainment district about a
10 minute walk from the arena, with restaurants, nightclubs and shops offering many
choices. Of course, no trip to Dallas is complete without a visit to the JFK Sixth Floor
Museum and Dealey Plaza, site of a moment of time which forever changed our history.

The Concourses
The minute you walk into this arena you will be instantly mesmerized. At each of the four
entrances is a magnificent atrium/lobby, extending to the very top of the building, and each
of them has its own corporate sponsor and is decorated in that sponsor’s logos. The most
dramatic lobby is the south entrance, where American Airlines is the sponsor, and model
airplanes dangle from the ceiling, mixed with flags of their logos and huge jumbotron
screens show their corporate ads done to their theme music which plays softly in the

The concourses are octagon shaped, and colors are done in soft whites and beiges with
grey and white mosaic tile flooring. Between the lobbies in each corner are four rotundas,
again reaching to the top level, and beautiful mosaic artwork is laid into the flooring. The
art can best be enjoyed from the top level, where one can look straight down and see the
floor from up high. By the way, TV monitors are everywhere, but not the ordinary TV sets –
instead, flat screen, HDTV plasma monitors offering the newest in video technology.

Escalator towers are located on each side of the building, with separate escalators for the
upper concourse and another for the club/suite levels. The concourses are spacious,
bright, and easy to navigate. If there is one commentary we would like to make, the
concourses here do not look like those you would find in a sports arena. Indeed, the
hallways in this place have more a feel of a symphony hall or opera house. Whether that is a
good or bad thing is for you to experience and judge, and we will leave it at that.

The Seating Bowl

If the building itself and the concourses are not enough, this arena’s seating bowl will blow
you away. The most distinctive feature here is the arched roof, with steel supports painted
kelly green and cream colored piping and baffles, the ceiling of the bowl just adds to the
ambience. The seating area is divided into three levels, a lower and an upper level, and in
between, three “mini levels” of combined Platinum Club seating and a total of 182 suites.

The seats, all padded, are colored grey with a subtle pattern of American Airlines logos.
Along the club level balcony is a 360 degree surround digital effects LED board, with
companion LED boards on each of the 8 panels of the main scoreboard. The scoreboard
itself is 8 sided, but unlike most configurations, 4 viewing screens and 4 dot matrix boards,
this board can display video, LED graphics and cool special effects on ALL EIGHT SIDES.
There are also two huge companion display boards hanging high above each end zone.


Adding to the regular fare are such local favorites as the “Edge of Texas”, offering mexican cuisine, Hot Popped and Twisted with gourmet cookies, pretzels and specialty popcorn, and
Sonny Bryan’s BBQ with, what else, Texas Barbecue. On the main concourse is a restaurant
and bar named the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 club, offering full bar service, pregame buffet
and a la carte menu. High up in the top level are the Miller Lite SkyBar and the Dr. Pepper
Bottling Plant, two nooks with plenty of memorabilia to look at as well as food and

Premium Seating

The Platinum Club level offers many of the amenities available in similar facilities, and the
Breakways Restaurant here offers a wide item of specialty foods and desserts served
market style, similar to our 200 level Harbour Club in Buffalo. At the other end is the Club
restaurant itself, offering fine dining, a well stocked wine cellar and breathtaking views of
the Dallas skyline. The club concourse itself is a bit bland and austere – much in need of
some color, displays etc.

Banners/Retired Numbers

The Mavericks have had little success in their franchise history – only one divisional title
and two retired numbers, those of Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman from the 80’s. The
Stars display their various divisional and conference championships, and of course, the
one banner that strikes a dagger in the heart of us Buffalo fans — the 1999 Stanley Cup
championship banner. The Stars had some success when they played in Bloomington as the
Minnesota North Stars, making 2 trips to the Cup finals. The folks here must have had a
case of amnesia since no mention is made of these accomplishments. Curiously, all the Stars banners are colored white save one – that being the 1999 Stanley Cup banner which has a black background. We can only deduce that this banner is black to better mask the stain and taint of this questionable accomplishment – the “No Goal” debacle and NHL officiating in its most shameful and disgusting moment.  OK, enough about that…

Slam Dunks, Assists, Fouls

Slam Dunk – to the Stars fans who shout the word “STARS” twice during the playing of our National Anthem…. a uniquely Dallas thing and a cool one at that.

Slam Dunk – to AM 1310 “The Ticket”, namely producer Rick Arnett and hosts Dan McDowell, Brad Sturm and Wally Lamm for inviting us in studio for a terrific interview. We were also given a mentions on both the Mavs and the Stars post game shows done from the Miller
Like Sky Bar. Incredibly, Wally Lamm remembered us from 1999, when we visited Reunion
Arena for game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals and we had met him back then. Thanks to
everybody and you are all inducted into the Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of Fame!

Foul – to the Stars, for dropping the cool “Let’s — Go — Dal —las — Stars” chant done at Reunion Arena to the cool music of hometown rock group Pantera. What happened to the mix guys?

Slam Dunk – The amazing run of the USRT karma reaches an epic length with the Stars 2-1
win over the Bruins, as the roadtrippers witness a victory by the home club for the
fourteenth consecutive time!!!! Look out Green Bay!!

Foul – To the management of TGIF at the Ballpark at Arlington. The restaurant is three
quarters empty yet patrons have to wait 20-30 minutes for a table. WHO’S RUNNING THIS

Slam Dunk – the Mavs win over the Hawks was a historic one for Dallas as head coach Don
Nelson earned his 1000th career victory, joining only Pat Riley and Lenny Wilkens as the
only coaches who have won that many games. Nice job Nellie!!!

Foul – Unfortunately on this night, Mavericks point guard Michael Finley did not play due to a lame hamstring. This ended his impressive consecutive games  played streak at 490. We
guess that sometimes the USRT karma works in mysterious ways…..


The design, ambience, finishing touches, artwork and superior technological
enhancements makes the American Airlines Center one of the premier venues in the NHL
and NBA, if not among the four major sports. Our expectations going in were high, and we
were not disappointed. About the only thing we would recommend is a better sports motif
in the concourses and more decor and color in the club concourses. Otherwise there is
little more that we could suggest. Awesome job, Dallas!

July 23, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Dallas, Texas – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is being accused in court of diverting
millions of dollars in profits from the American Airlines Center to help fund his basketball team.

The lawsuit was filed by Hillwood Center Partners, a company led by Ross Perot Jr., who is also
a minority owner in the Mavericks and a partner in Center Operating Co., the firm that manages
the arena. Cuban’s firm, Radical Arena Ltd., owns a third of Center Operating Co. Cuban controls
92.5 percent and Hillwood 7.5 percent of Radical Arena, according to the suit.

Beginning with $20 million in 2006, the lawsuit says, Cuban lent money from Radical Arena to
the Mavericks that should have instead been paid to the partners.

Cuban could have borrowed from the team’s line of credit, the complaint says, but he then
would have been personally liable for the loans. He did not guarantee the Radical Arena loans to
the team, the complaint says.

With extensions and additional borrowing, Radical Arena’s loans to the Mavericks now total
more than $29 million, the complaint says, and the interest rate has been reduced to 3.5 percent.
Hillwood says it has demanded that the money be distributed to the partners and Cuban has

In total, the complaint says, the Mavericks have borrowed about $50 million from Radical
Arena and other Mavericks-related entities involved in Center Operating.

The Mavericks and Dallas Stars each control half of Center Operating. Stars and Texas Rangers
owner Tom Hicks is not involved in this dispute, according to Cuban and a Hicks spokeswoman.
In an email to reporters, Cuban said his understanding was that the “total aggregate amount”
of Perot’s interest was $3 million.

“When the money is repaid by the Mavericks, the largest recipient of the funds will be me,”
Cuban wrote.

February 11, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Dallas, Texas – 7-Eleven is in talks with the American Airlines Center to open a convenience
store inside the venue that would also be accessible from the street. Initially, the store will be open during events, or about 200 days of the year, said Joe Skenderian, vice president of business development for center. “As the area around us grows, being open all the time will definitely be an option.”

The store will sell beer, but it can’t be brought into the building, he said.

7-Eleven was chosen because “fans already know what they can get there and it offers a value proposition,” Skenderian said. “Slurpees, grab ‘n go cups of fruit, sandwiches, chips and other items that we don’t have adds to our offerings.”

7-Eleven has expanded its hot food menu to include pizza, but since the center is already served by Pizza Patron, the store won’t sell pizza. An exception was made for 7-Eleven’s Big Bite hotdogs.

Skenderian said the store will be convenient especially during events when the arena is closed but big crowds are nearby such as on New Year’s Eve and during the White Rock Marathon.

7-Eleven has been in an expansion mode opening stores in New York City and more urban destinations as it adds to its hot and fresh food menus. The company has opened two stores in downtown Dallas.

June 17, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

The city of Dallas expects to pay off its debt on American Airlines Center in late 2011 and years ahead of schedule, city financial officers told City Council members. In 1998, the city issued $140 million in bonds to pay its $125 million contribution to the arena’s construction. The last of those bonds were scheduled to be paid off in 2027. But higher than expected tax receipts over the years allowed the city to redeem the bonds much more quickly than anticipated. Dallas pledged two tax sources to pay off the bonds – a 2 percent addition to the hotel occupancy tax and a 5 percent rental car tax. Those taxes – particularly the rental car tax – brought in more revenue than anticipated, allowing the city to redeem bonds more quickly than expected, city officials said. Now, just $26.23 million in principal remains on the debt. Once that is paid off, the taxes pledged to the debt will no longer be assessed.

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