SBJ/June 3-9, 2013/Facilities

Dallas arena brings loge-style seats to Texas

American Airlines Center is building 20 theater boxes, introducing a smaller premium-seat concept new to Texas sports venues.

The theater boxes in the upper suite level replace 10 traditional suites to be torn down in early August, said Dave Brown, vice president and general manager for Center Operating Co., the facility’s management firm.

Center Operating Co., co-owned by the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, is investing $900,000 in the project. Construction should be completed by Oct. 1, in time for the Stars’ regular-season home opener, Brown said.

The boxes, situated on the arena’s north side, face the
Behind the 20 new theater boxes at American Airlines Center is a 4,000-square-foot lounge.
Photo by: HKS SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
stage behind the goal where the Stars shoot twice. Each box has four fixed seats with the option to add two large lounge chairs. They are all-inclusive and sell for $80,000 annually with one-, two- and three-year terms.

Those fees cover the cost of tickets to most events, including all Mavericks and Stars regular-season games, food and drink (including beer, wine and hard liquor), and VIP parking. Playoff games are not included. The arena plays host to about 200 events a year, Brown said.

Behind the seats is a 4,000-square-foot lounge with two full-service bars, two fireplaces, a chef’s buffet and four-seat dining tables.

As of last week, the arena had sold two theater boxes before officially going to market. Both purchasers are new buyers, Brown said.

Driving the retrofit was the opportunity to develop a midprice premium option between a suite and a club seat, as well as to put a fresh look on premium seating in a region of the country that until now has not offered a loge-style seat, Brown said. Some of the 10 regular suites in that space were long-term deals, and those patrons will be relocated. The remaining inventory was reserved for single-game rentals, he said.

Not even Cowboys Stadium, with its 300-plus suites and 15,000 club seats, has a loge box product, confirmed Mark Williams, a principal with HKS and the architect’s director of sports and entertainment. HKS originally designed American Airlines Center and developed the theater boxes.

Elsewhere, theater boxes are not new. Over the past five years, about 10 NBA and NHL facilities have made similar retrofits as they adjust to changing trends in the premium-seat market, charging $60,000 to $125,000 a year for those smaller seat groups.

In Dallas, American Airlines Center’s research included taking a close look at theater boxes at United Center in Chicago and US Airways Center in Phoenix. The 12-year-old arena’s new seats most closely resemble the theater boxes at those two facilities, Brown said.

“It’s a mix of a lot of products we see out there,” Williams said. “I think the market will respond to the look and feel of the new boxes. It will be an identifiable space; it will stand out in the bowl.”

Depending on the demand, there is an opportunity to build more theater boxes next year on each side of the new units, Williams said.

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