AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANK: #22
- Location: Dallas, Texas
- Opened 2001
- Capacity 18,532
- Games attended: 1
- Last visited: 2020
Despite a mind-blowing $420 million 2001 price tag, the American Airlines Center is now just an “average” NHL arena.
The rink is located just a 10 minute walk from downtown Dallas (though I was looking over my shoulder for a few of those blocks). Its exterior is made of brick, limestone, and granite with signature arches and looks like a glass-windowed Quonset hut. There’s a nice plaza on the building’s south side with benches, fountains and mood lighting. The DART light rail and Trinity Rail Express both stop right in front of the arena, offering an alternative to braving Metroplex traffic.
Each of the four entrances features an atrium with ceilings extending all the way to the top of the building. The south entrance lobby is sponsored by American Airlines and has model airplanes dangling from the rafters and video screens showing their ads; it’s an awesome introduction to the venue. The concourses are done in soft whites and beiges with grey and white mosaic tile flooring, making the place look more like a concert hall than a hockey rink. Flat screen, HDTV plasma monitors are peppered throughout the facility. Concessions are pretty good with some Texas-style vittles and a host of (pricy) craft beer options. And the seats in the main seating bowl are all padded. The structure is pretty impressive.
The game day experience is a bit of a mixed bag. The introduction for the Dallas Stars is cool and includes a smoking neon green star, through which the players come onto the ice. And props to the many who yell out “STARS” when that word comes up during Celena Rae’s singing of the National Anthem. Yet the overall atmosphere was average at best; Dallas is a football town, so the level of hockey savvy varies significantly among those in the building. Crowd size and intensity ebbs with the Stars’ winning percentage that year. While the place got loud, a lot of that noise was scoreboard generated. Net net, I didn’t leave The Hangar with the same sense of adrenaline as I get from other rinks.
My quibbles aside, you could do a lot worse in a facility than this multipurpose structure in Big D. But once you factor in quibbles, the arena sits a little lower in the pack.