By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Dec 19 2009 5:04PM
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jerry Jones is clear on what he's shooting for when the NBA All-Star Game takes center stage inside his football palace.
"Well, we want to push the magical number and we think we have an opportunity here," the visionary Dallas Cowboys owner said Saturday afternoon before the Texas-North Carolina college game. "We're well along the way right now: One-double-O."
That's Jones-speak for 100,000 fans jamming Cowboys Stadium for the NBA's Feb. 14 showcase event, which is being broadcast by TNT and ESPN Radio. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also plugged that "magical" number since the All-Star Game was awarded to the Dallas area over a year ago.
Usually the hype created by the All-Star Game is centered squarely on the league's best and brightest, with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and their brethren carrying the weekend. The $1.3 billion stadium and those filling its seats are sharing the bill this time around.
Jones said the NBA, Mavericks and Cowboys have sold nearly 90,000 tickets already. NBA executive Ski Austin has been on site working with the Cowboys on the seating configuration, which includes sections being constructed around the court in addition to the normal football stands.
Austin is wary about throwing around the 100,000 goal.
"People are excited about what the opportunity is here," he said. "We'll know really at the end of the day if there can be that many people. Science and physics tell me that it's more prudent just to say in the 80s. Either way it's a record crowd and a great experience."
Jones has experience with six-figure crowds. The first regular-season game at the Cowboys Stadium three months ago set the NFL attendance record at 105,121.
The largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game is 78,129 for Kentucky-Michigan State in 2003. The NBA has had several teams play in domes over the years and Texas has hosted two previous All-Star Games at football stadiums. The Hawks set the regular-season record with 62,046 fans at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.
The current All-Star attendance record of 44,735 was set at the Houston Astrodome in 1989. San Antonio had 36,037 at the Alamodome in 1996. The turnout for the upcoming clash between the elite of the Western and Eastern Conferences promises to surpass both those games combined.
Saturday's game between two top-10 programs was viewed as a dress rehearsal by the NBA and Cowboys Stadium, with the setup being very similar for the All-Star Game. Jones said the massive 80-yard video scoreboard, which dwarfs the raised basketball court, should help fans suffering from arena withdrawal.
"It'll be intimate," Jones assured. "It'll have an energy that's hard to replicate for basketball. This is something that we've planned on and hoped for."
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