Dallas' American Airlines Center prior to a home playoff game

Pelicans broadcasters roundtable: Favorite Southwest Division road arena

by Jim Eichenhofer

Having just reached the “legal age” of 21 this year, the Smoothie King Center is actually the oldest building in the Southwest Division, but by a slim margin. Each of the New Orleans Pelicans’ division rivals from Texas and Tennessee opened their arena doors in the early 2000s, starting with Dallas (’01), followed by San Antonio (’02), Houston (’03) and Memphis (’04).

When asked to select their favorite among those four relatively new venues, there was little consensus among New Orleans’ TV and radio talent, with nearly everyone picking a different favorite. Incidentally, there are only seven NBA arenas newer than FedEx Forum in Memphis, a group that includes Charlotte, Orlando, Brooklyn, Sacramento, Detroit, Milwaukee and Golden State.

What’s your favorite road arena to visit in the Southwest Division and why?

John DeShazier, Pelicans radio

I’m goin’ back to Memphis (not Cali, but say it like L.L. would). Memphis is kind of a natural rival for the Pelicans for market size and proximity, and it offers that kind of feel. It gets loud in FedExForum and when the Grizzlies are good, it can be an unsettling atmosphere. There are aspects of the other arenas I like – the fat guys dancing in Dallas, the Coyote mascot and the bat-chasing in San Antonio, the scoreboard in Houston – but those are “things,” and not the totality of “atmosphere.”

Todd Graffagnini, Pelicans radio

American Airlines Center in Dallas. Not because of the two results this season vs. the Mavericks. Despite the location of the radio broadcast area (you need a telescope to see the court), it’s a beautiful downtown arena despite it being 20 years old. Love the sightlines for the fans and the design of the building… also it’s been sold out for nearly all that time, so you’re guaranteed 19,000-plus every night.

Joel Meyers, Pelicans TV

I will once again have to go with San Antonio, for the mere fact that they have a Whataburger in the arena! I don’t eat a lot during the course of the day on gamedays, but a triple Whataburger pregame always does the trick for me when we’re in San Antonio. I always walk around upstairs in the concourse before games, but that’s usually just to look for the perfect kernel and get some popcorn. But I’m willing to make an exception in my routine for a good, hot, triple burger.

Daniel Sallerson, Pelicans radio

I like Dallas partly because of the look of the arena on the outside. It’s brick and a different look compared to a lot of arenas around the NBA. On the inside, it’s been around for a while, but it’s still a very nice arena. Although our seats are pretty high up in our radio position, just from a broadcasting perspective, they have office chairs for us, to sit down and be comfortable. It’s very appreciated, to be able to sit down and relax a bit, when you’re going to be there doing a game for two and a half hours.

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