Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Updated: April 8, 1:41 PM ET
Stadium holds plenty of common ground
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- It is expected that whenever the economy turns, Cowboys Stadium will become known as (Your Company's Name Here For $100 Million Or So) Stadium.
It might be more appropriate as a name, since Cowboys Stadium is far too limiting.
Just as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects the $1.2 billion building to permanently join the rotation of Super Bowls, NCAA tournament regional rounds and Final Fours, World Cups, championship fights, mega-concerts and maybe even a BCS game, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban projects the shimmering entertainment magnet in Arlington will be added as revolving destination for the NBA's All-Star Game.
The first one takes center stage Sunday night. It's the first All-Star Game in North Texas since 1986 at Reunion Arena. It shouldn't take 24 years for the league's showcase event to return.
"I hope so, I'd like to see it that way," Cuban said. "The NBA is certainly making more money doing it this way. So it's something I'll certainly push. It'll certainly be great for the area."
That's a new tune Cuban's singing. In the past, he's insistently told the NBA's All-Star Game to take a hike. As owners go, Cuban has always positioned himself as a slave to the paying customer.
It's why for years he says he rebuffed the NBA's requests to bring All-Star Weekend to the American Airlines Center, which can jam about 21,000 people into a basketball configuration. The league distributes the vast majority of All-Star Game tickets to corporate sponsors and other friends, leaving few available for, say, the 15,000 or so Mavs fans who purchased full, half or mini season-ticket packages for the 2009-2010 season.
And so Cuban has contended that if his most important customers can't get into the game, then forget it.
"People who support you the most, you don't want to leave them hanging," Cuban said. "The last thing I wanted was someone who busts their ass, goes to work every day and says, 'I'm going to make a sacrifice. I'm going to go to Mavs games and buy season tickets,' then have a big event like this come in and give them tickets to the Bar Mitzvah and not the game. And it's even a cash bar. It's not right."
The Bar Mitzvah is in reference to ancillary events such as the Jam Session at the Dallas Convention Center, the Friday and Saturday events at the AAC that include the Rookie Challenge, the Slam Dunk Contest, Three-Point Shootout and skills competition. Fun stuff, but it's not The Game.
"We just had to wait for the right way to do it," Cuban said.
Cowboys Stadium has changed the game.
Cuban called Cowboys owner Jones, who jumped on board. That high-powered collaboration excited the NBA and made it happen. At least one Mavs superstar thought he'd never see the day.
"When he took over, he wasn't going to do an All-Star Game," said Dirk Nowitzki, who will play in his ninth consecutive All-Star Game on Sunday as a Western Conference reserve. "So I was always in that mindset that we're not going to have it."
At massive Cowboys Stadium, the NBA can take care of its business interests and Cuban can take care of his customers' interests. The Mavs were able to make tickets available to all of their season-ticket account holders, and they weren't relegated to nosebleed sections or obstructed-view seats. The Mavs offered every season-ticket holder options in every price range.
And because of the bottomless capacity of Cowboys Stadium, just about anyone in the Metroplex who ever wanted to attend an All-Star Game can. More than 90,000 tickets have been sold, guaranteeing a world record for attendance at a basketball game.
"We have one of the largest season-ticket holder bases in the league and have," Cuban said. "We've been able to take care of everybody and then some. There are all kinds of different scenarios, but everybody got access to pretty much all they needed."
Yes, Cuban can smile. His stubbornness paid off. Everybody's happy, from NBA commissioner David Stern to local hoteliers and restaurateurs to the guy who bought a Mavs mini-plan.
Cuban will celebrate this weekend at the various parties across the Metroplex, while looking ahead to the next time around when he predicts that this experience will make party hopping that much easier.
"It will be party central," Cuban said. "When you come back for a second time people will actually plan bigger parties inside the stadium itself."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.