One of the great things about living in Austin, TX is that I’m super close to the other major cities in Texas – 1.5 hours to San Antonio, 2 hours (on a good day) to Houston, and 3 hours to my favorite Texas city, Dallas. And yes, one of the reasons that Dallas is my favorite Texas city is because it’s home to Texas’ only NHL team, the Dallas Stars!
I’ve been fortunate to be able to go to Dallas a handful of times since moving to Austin to see the Stars (or see the Penguins when they’re in town once a season). But I remember telling myself last year that if the Stars made it to the Playoffs, I would try to make it to as many games as possible. They just missed the Playoffs in 2018, but 2019 is here and the Stars are in the Playoffs! I was able to grab tickets to all three home games for the first round and tickets to one of the second round games. Unfortunately, that was all my poor wallet could handle, but I’m so fortunate to have grabbed those tickets!
For the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Stars were playing the Nashville Predators, with Nashville having home ice advantage in the first round. The Stars first playoff game for 2019 in Dallas took place on Monday, April 15. (Happy Tax Day, everyone!) For this game, I was able to grab two tickets and my friend, Madie, took the road trip with me to Dallas. The tailgating event started at 5:30pm, doors opened at 7pm, and puck drop was at 8:30pm.
Party in the Plaza
I saw on the Stars social media pages that they were going to be throwing a Party in the Plaza – basically a tailgating event – before each playoff game. I’ve never participated in any tailgating before the Stars’ regular season games, so I’m not sure if this is a regular thing. I know that they do a big tailgating event and Green Carpet at the home opener, but not sure about the other regular season games.
The Party in the Plaza wasn’t anything too special. They had a big stage set up and live music playing – pretty good band, too! The Fox Sports Southwest broadcast was set up, they had beer and sodas available for purchase, and they had a giant blow up snow globe advertising the Winter Classic – and you could take your picture inside! Victor E. Green and the Ice Girls also showed up at on point. Other than that, there wasn’t much going on. If you’re already around the arena that early, I would suggest stopping by earlier and seeing the band and visiting The Hangar, the team store, while there aren’t a lot of people around. It did get much busier the closer we got to doors open. But there’s not too much to do at the party, so I wouldn’t go out of your way to attend if you’re not completely sold on the idea.
A new sports bar called HERO had recently opened up in the plaza, so Madie and I jumped in there after about 30 minutes of hanging at the party. It was great because there was air conditioning, a clean bathroom, seating, and the Bruins/Leafs game on a huge TV screen! Even with the place being packed with people, service was super quick and friendly. Madie grabbed an Old Fashioned, that she said was super delicious – I had a water, which I can also say was pretty great.
Madie and I got into AAC around 7:30pm and were immediately handed programs and glow sticks. Y’ALL. My favorite thing about playoffs – other than the excitement and awesome pre-game shows – is the swag. When we were handed glow sticks, I knew that this pre-game show was going to be legit!
To our surprise, we ended up being in one of the tallest seats in the entire arena. We were the tallest seats in our section and we were leaning up against the wall of the arena. I was a little freaked out at first (I have a fear of falling), but I then realized that we might have had the best seats in the house. I could see both goals PERFECTLY and was able to grab some truly amazing pictures of the entire arena. I usually try to get seats closer to the ice when the Penguins are in town, but I might stick with the nosebleed sections from now on because the view is pretty spectacular. AAC is not a huge hockey arena, so it looks like most any ticket you have is going to have a decent view of the ice.
Like I originally thought when we arrived, the pre-game show was INCREDIBLE! It was heavily inspired by the Matrix, with a little bit of spy-movie effects thrown in. You should definitely go and check out the whole show on YouTube. Since this was the first playoff game in Dallas of the season, it was awesome to be able to experience the show first with everyone there. And again, those seats helped get me some truly amazing photos of all the glow sticks and effects!
I try to keep my thoughts and opinions about the game to a minimum when I’m writing game experience posts – you can check out my Thoughts + Rants section and my Twitter account to hear that stuff – but the game definitely did start off pretty shaky for both teams. But y’all, the Dallas fans KILLED IT! This crowd was so pumped, so excited, and so loud! I love hearing that kind of passion in fans! They were cheering for their team every single step of the way! At one point, it was a 5 on 3 power play and my entire section was on their feet cheering and yelling for them to score. It didn’t happen, but that didn’t stop us from cheering them on!
While the first game in Dallas ended in a loss, the second game in Dallas was a win! And the crowd has continued to get more and more pumped! If Dallas continues into Round 2, and hopefully even further into the Playoffs, I cannot wait to see the energy from fans build in Dallas! I’m actually writing this on Sunday, April 21st, and will be driving to Dallas tomorrow afternoon to attend Game 6 (third game in Dallas) of the series. If Dallas wins, they’re going to the second round. I’m hoping, praying, and keeping all my fingers crossed that that happens tomorrow night because that will truly be an experience of a lifetime to be a part of that crowd while they’re celebrating!
Tips and Recommendations
Tickets: Regular season game tickets to the Stars are pretty affordable – some of the more affordable prices in the NHL. I usually pay around $40-$50/ticket for a good seat in the 300’s sections (upper level). I actually scored really good playoff ticket prices by being a Dallas Stars Insider aka a subscriber to their newsletter. I get it that people don’t like extra emails in their inbox, but it’s worth it when I got to buy tickets two days in advance and scored tickets to this specific game at $35/each!
You should also check out Ticketmaster’s Verified Resales and Stub Hub. You can almost always find good ticket prices on there, but watch out for the people who seriously bump up the prices on resales, especially when the team is doing well in the playoffs.
Commute: The state of Texas has been under construction for… forever. Currently, I-35 in downtown Dallas, especially right in front of AAC, is under super construction. At one point during my drives, I had no idea where my lane was. For that, I tell you to plan your commute accordingly. Puck drops are usually 7 or 7:30 (unless it’s a matinee game on a weekend), so be weary of rush hour traffic at 5pm and construction slowing down normal traffic.
Parking: For this game, I parked in the Lexus Garage, which worked out perfectly! It is $25, but it was basically 10 steps from my car to the front door of AAC. The Lexus Garage is open all day (one of the reasons I parked there), while the other garages and lots specific to AAC open so many hours before puck drop. You can find a list of prices on the American Airlines Center website. There’s also other lots and garages nearby to AAC, so if you’re familiar with the area, be sure to check out cheaper parking options.
Explore: One of the great things about AAC is that it’s right in between the downtown and uptown areas of Dallas! If you get there early, take advantage of walking around and seeing new places. Madie showed me one of her favorite coffee shops, Magnolias Sous Le Pont, which was super cute, super cozy, and maybe two blocks away from the arena. We also walked a little ways to Klyde Warren Park, the park on top of the interstate, and had drinks at Savor Gastropub. (Try the apple pie flavored Moscow mule!) There are also a few museums within a mile or two of the arena that I want to check out in the future.
I always have a good time Stars games, whether I’m cheering for the home or away team, and the environment of a playoff game definitely made my experience ten times better! If you live in the Dallas area or you’re in town for a visit, you should definitely make going to a Dallas Stars game a priority! It’s a great family event or date night and the entire organization always makes sure that everyone is having a good time. Even if you’ve never watched hockey a second in your life, you should still go! Hockey fans, like myself, enjoy watching it at any time, but hockey is definitely a sport that is most enjoyed live, especially by people who don’t classify themselves as “hockey fans”.
Tell me your thoughts! Have you been to Dallas to see a Stars game? What was your favorite part of the experience? If you haven’t been, are you planning on going?
Happy Playoffs, Everyone! And GO STARS!