At the Mavericks game tonight, I realized as fact something I had thought since the American Airlines Center opened in downtown Dallas in 2001. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful arena. It's roomy, it's luxurious and it's comfortable. It's been a great home to the Mavericks and Stars (and even the Desperados). The arena's ability to generate a true homecourt advantage compared to its predecessor, however, is disgraceful.
The AAC was built after Reunion Arena was deemed outdated and inadequate for sporting events of the twenty-first century. It didn't have box suites. It didn't have luxury lounges. It had two levels filled with plastic seats. That's it. The newer AAC has all that and more. It's huge. Just looking around the building, you can tell its enormity. Everything is so spread out. And therein lies the problem.
Here is the seating chart of Reunion Arena compared to that of the American Airlines Center. You can just tell by the different levels and spacing in the AAC that it's more complex and spread out.
Reunion Arena seating chart
AAC seating chart
The problem with the Double-A-C is that because everyone is so spread out, the crowd is not as loud. They've replaced the thousands of seats in Reunion Arena with 40 box suites in the AAC, and people in box suites don't cheer like people in regular seats.
Here's how people in these box suites view the idea of cheering during a game:
And you can clearly see the difference of just how closely packed to the court fans were at Reunion compared to a spread out American Airlines Center which isn't half as conducive to creating a truly effective home-court advantage.
Here's a shot of Reunion Arena. There are two levels of seats. No luxury boxes in between. Just places for the butts of every Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars fan. If you wanted to come watch your team gut it out that night, this was the place to be, and people loved it. The fans loved it.
Empty Reunion Arena
The American Airlines Center, however, is much more spread out, with more levels of luxury suites breaking up the stands. The upper deck is so far removed from the playing surface that any noise from the upper deck is negligible compared to this arena's predecessor just a few miles south on I-35.
Empty American Airlines Center
Now compare a full Reunion Arena with a packed house at the Double-A-C. The fans are so far removed from the action in the AAC that, quite frankly, the home court advantage is nothing compared to the "old days" at Reunion Arena.
Hockey at Reunion Arena
A full house at the AAC
As a sports fan, I go to the games to root on my team. With all these box suites and Platinum level seating, many people attend the games as an activity, as something to do. I don't mind that some people go to the games just as something to do and not to cheer for the team. I'm not asking for an arena full of die-hards, but I just want the home-court advantage to be the best for the team's sake.