All-Star game in Texas draws record crowd
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Not only bigger in Texas. The biggest.
The NBA All-Star game at Cowboys Stadium set a record for the most-attended basketball game ever with a crowd of 108,713 people filling the stadium Sunday night.
“It’s meant to be a party,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “We say we’re going to throw the biggest party like you’ve never seen before and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.”
Cuban was joined at midcourt by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the end of the third quarter to announce the record figure. The record was certified by Guinness Book of World Records, and there were T-shirts celebrating the mark even before the end of the Eastern Conference’s 141-139 victory over the West.
“When you first got here, it was like no way this is going to fill up,” Orlando’s Dwight Howard said. “Go to the locker room (after pregame warmups) and come back out, there’s no more seats. It’s amazing.”
Jones spearheaded the building of the $1.2 billion stadium that opened last year in Arlington, a city of more than 370,000 people located between Dallas and Fort Worth.
The crowd for the second NBA All-Star game in the Dallas area was larger than any of the NFL games played in the stadium, which includes three levels of platforms at each end for standing-room-only tickets.
“I’m pleased looking at it,” Jones said. “The atmosphere, if you had had a highly competitive situation where these teams were playing for the world championship, imagine this 100,000 people being completely nuts.”
That could be the scene next February, when Cowboys Stadium hosts the Super Bowl. The 2014 NCAA men’s Final Four also will be played in the building.
“This is a beautiful building, but it’s so big that in some respects you couldn’t even see many of the 108,000 people. It was surreal in that way,” said Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, who played for Dallas from 1998-2004. “I felt like I was in a spaceship.”
The Cowboys drew 105,121 for their home debut against the New York Giants last September to set an NFL regular-season attendance record. For their playoff game last month against the Philadelphia Eagles, the crowd of 92,951 was the most in NFL history for a postseason game other than a Super Bowl.
“Everybody’s had a great time. … You can just see people’s eyes just bugging out of their head,” Cuban said. “It’s crazy and I haven’t heard a negative comment yet.”
The only other time the NBA All-Star game was played in the area was in 1986 before a crowd of 16,573 at Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas. That facility was demolished last year.
Nash won the Skills Competition during the All-Star Saturday night festivities, which were held at the Mavericks’ home arena before the main event at Cowboys Stadium.
“This is what we all hoped for, and it came through,” Nash said. “Everyone I think would have been thrilled if there were 75,000 or 80,000 people. To have 108,000 people, for it to be an entertaining game, for it to go without a hitch … it was a phenomenal experience.”