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Texas-sized treatment in store for 2010 All-Star Game

By Art Garcia,
Posted Oct 31 2008 1:34PM

DALLAS -- They say everything is bigger in Texas. Don't expect anything short of grand for the NBA All-Star Game.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones have joined forces to stage what they promise will be an unforgettable and historic weekend in 2010. Two of the more recognized and media-savvy owners in pro sports announced Thursday during a raucous pep rally outside American Airlines Center that the 59th NBA All-Star Game is coming to the Dallas Cowboys' new $1 billion stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"The NBA All-Star Weekend has become the biggest party weekend in the country," Cuban told "I think it will be a unique chance for Dallas and Fort Worth and the cities in between to show off, and to let everyone see how Texas does it right."


• Official release: 2010 All-Star Game headed to Dallas Q&A: 1986 Slam Dunk Contest champion Spud Webb
• Video flashback: '86 Slam Dunk Contest | Top 10 plays from 1986
Photos: 1986 All-Star Game | 1986 Slam Dunk Contest
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The as-yet unnamed and unopened facility is certain to be the gold standard for athletic playpens. The retractable roof stadium, already casting a sleek silver profile of glass and steel that dwarfs the adjacent Texas Rangers' baseball park, will be capable of seating up to 100,000.

The day the stadium financing package passed nearly four years ago, Cuban first publicly acknowledged the thought of bringing the NBA's showcase event to North Texas. The Mavericks and the NFL franchise begin working closely together in the last two years to land All-Star Weekend. Mavs president Terdema Ussery helped spearhead the bid.

"We really want to have an event that includes all of the North Texas community, especially kids," Ussery said. "Can you imagine what sort of memories the All-Star Game would create for a child that is watching a basketball game for the first time? It would be magical."

The seeds were planted way back in 2004. The All-Star Game last visited Dallas in 1986 with the East outscored the West 139-132 at Reunion Arena. The Pistons' Isiah Thomas was the MVP of that game, recording 30 points, 10 assists and five steals.

"The NBA All-Star Game coming to the Cowboys new stadium is a testament to the vision and passion that Mark Cuban brings to sports," Jones said. "We're proud to be partners with Mark, the Mavericks and the NBA, and we know that North Texas will be a first-class host for this world-class event."

Cuban envisions an "amazing" scene of 100,000 fans packing "Jerryworld" for Sunday's feature attraction, which will fall on Feb. 14. That would shatter the All-Star attendance record of 44,735 set at the Houston Astrodome in 1989.

Though one Cowboys official seemed skeptical that so many people would want to watch a "basketball game," the Mavs owner is hardly discouraged.

"When the Cowboys stadium became a reality, it was a chance to not only take care of our customers, but to bring great events to Dallas and the American Airlines Center for what could be the biggest All-Star Game or special event ever held to the DFW area," Cuban said. "That was great for Mavs fans and for the economy of the area."

NBA Commissioner David Stern, who also attended the announcement, isn't necessarily shooting for 100,000.

"We have more modest goals," he said.

A crowd of 80,000 would be a success, Stern added. The projected seating chart can reach 96,000, though Cuban promises to push the envelope to reach six figures.

Many of the Lone Star-sized game-day attractions still need to be worked out by the Mavs, Cowboys and NBA. A military flyover before the game while the roof is still open had been discussed. The court is expected to be placed in the center of the stadium, as opposed to an end zone, in a setup similar to Houston's Reliant Stadium and Detroit's Ford Field during the 2008 NCAA Tournament.


• Official release: 2010 All-Star Game headed to Dallas Q&A: 1986 Slam Dunk Contest champion Spud Webb
• Video flashback: '86 Slam Dunk Contest | Top 10 plays from 1986
Photos: 1986 All-Star Game | 1986 Slam Dunk Contest
More All-Star Game history, photos and more

Cuban was never interested in having the All-Star Game at 19,200-seat American Airlines Center. The reason? Mavs fans.

The NBA traditionally controls 16,000-18,000 tickets for the midseason exhibition, which are distributed to league partners. Under that arrangement, the majority of the Mavs' substantial season-ticket base wouldn't have the opportunity to seeing the league's best players in person.

Playing the game in a football stadium alleviates those worries.

"I can't think of anything more important than supporting your most valuable customers," Cuban added. "Whether they bought season tickets for $8 or [higher-priced ones], they have stuck with us. The idea of kicking them out of their seats for corporate accounts didn't sit right with me, and I wouldn't do it."

Select Cowboys season ticket holders will also have a chance to buy All-Star tickets, according to Jones.

Three previous All-Star Games have been held in Texas, the last in 1996 at San Antonio's Alamodome. The Mavs will be the first Texas franchise to host twice. Phoenix is the site of this season's All-Star Game.

The Mavs' homecourt won't go dark during All-Star Weekend, though. All-Star Saturday Night, including the Slam Dunk contest and Three-Point Shootout, and the Rookie Challenge will be held at American Airlines Center. Dallas Convention Center will house the popular Jam Session basketball theme park.

This will make the first time All-Star competitions are split between two venues since 1989 in Houston. The Summit hosted the Saturday night events before giving way to the Astrodome.

In addition to the possible record crowd, the worldwide television audience includes more 200 countries. TNT will broadcast coverage throughout the weekend, which starts Feb. 12.

The NBA All-Star Game is the latest coup for Jones at the Cowboys' new stadium. In addition to the Cowboys moving in for the 2009 season, the Super Bowl is headed to Arlington in 2011.

The Cotton Bowl Classic, which hopes to enter the Bowl Championship Series rotation someday, has relocated from its namesake stadium in Dallas. A number of other college games, including a yearly nonconference tilt between Texas A&M and Arkansas (Jones' alma mater) will be played in Arlington.

The stadium will be busy.

"That's what we built it for," Jones said.

The NBA All-Star Game could also help serve as a test run for the NCAA's Final Four. College basketball men's national championship game is played exclusively in domed football stadiums. Arlington is one of six finalists for the Final Four from 2012-16.

The Cowboys stadium, framed by distinct arches spanning its length, has the market cornered on bells and whistles. One of the highlights is the massive 60-yard video board stretching from one 20-yard line to the other. As for the roof, it takes 12 minutes to open or close.

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