This article is part of the wheelchair travel blog series, Accessible Gameday. In this series, I'll share my experiences with wheelchair accessibility at ballparks and sports stadiums around the country.The Dallas Mavericks are one of the NBA's most popular basketball teams. During my trip last month to Dallas, Texas, I had the opportunity to attend a game at the American Airlines Center.
I was excited to see the Mavs play the Charlotte Hornets, as it was my first NBA game since I became disabled. The contest did not disappoint, but Dallas fell 109-101 after losing their star center in the first quarter. From an accessibility standpoint, I found the arena to be extremely wheelchair friendly, and I had no issues making the most of my experience.
In this guide to Dallas Mavericks wheelchair accessibility, you'll find everything you need to know to plan your own accessible gameday experience at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas Mavericks ADA Seating
Tickets for ADA seating and wheelchair spaces can be purchased through the team's website at www.mavs.com. I received my ticket courses of Visit Dallas, and did not have to purchase one online. The process is very simple, though, and you can even print your tickets at home.
I was set-up with a wheelchair accessible seat in section 113, which is behind one of the basketball hoops. Incidentally, this section was right behind the team owner's floor seat. Mark Cuban - have you heard of him? And yes, he was in attendance for this game!
The two photographs above provide a look at the design of wheelchair accessible ADA seats and spaces at the American Airlines Center. The seats in section 113 are portable, folding chairs. The chairs can be removed to make way for a wheelchair, and the seats can be easily arranged for use by companions in your group.
The drawback? No cup holders! Mark Cuban, can you work on that? As a one-handed guy, it was frustrating to have to place my beer between my legs or on the floor. Thankfully, this will be an easy fix in the arena.
The ADA seating row in my section was elevated above the seats below, and I had no problem seeing the basketball court. The large video board above the court was also helpful in keeping an eye on the action. The Mavs also put together some really entertaining video content, which was played during timeouts and commercial breaks. The "Mavengers" video spoof was pretty comical.
Food, Beverages & Fan Gear
Hungry? Thirsty? Need a t-shirt or jersey? The Mavs have got you covered. There are tons of food options - from burgers to popcorn, beer and hot dogs. I enjoyed a hot dog, popcorn and a couple of cold brews.
Food and drink vendors also make their way through the stands - if you see something you like, flag them down. Don't forget to include a small tip.
The arena is also home to a team store, where you can grab all sorts of apparel and other Mavericks memorabilia.
The American Airlines Center opened in 2001 and meets all of the ADA-mandated building codes. But there is more to accessibility the the built environment, and the Mavs are doing a very good job.
The arena's gameday staff were helpful every step of the way. I made it through security quickly and without hassle. Just a brief run of a handheld metal detector wand over my body, and I was clear to enter. If you're bringing a bag in, that will have to be searched as well.
The main interior hallways are wide and spacious. I didn't have that awkward face-off with other people getting in the way of my wheelchair that is so common in other arenas and stadiums. If your tickets are on the 2nd or 3rd levels, elevators can give you a quick lift. Signage throughout the center makes finding what you're looking for very easy, and there are always staff available to provide direction.
There were enough bathrooms throughout the arena to accommodate the crowds, and I didn't have any issue making it to the accessible stall. The bathrooms were up to code, with plenty of space to maneuver and park a wheelchair alongside the toilet. Family restrooms are also available, which make it easier for those attending the game with a personal care attendant.
Getting to the American Airlines Center for a Mavericks game couldn't be easier! The arena is right across the street from Victory Station, which is served by the Green and Orange lines of the wheelchair accessible DART light rail. Only a few stops separate Downtown Dallas from the Mavs arena. TRE commuter rail trains also stop here.
Handicapped parking spaces are available in Lot F and the Lexus Garage, just steps away from the American Airlines Center. More information on the availability and costs associated with parking is available here.
The Mavericks are an entertaining basketball team, and the Dallas fans really "get into" the competition. This atmosphere, coupled with the arena's excellent accessibility and the great concessions make for a fantastic gameday experience. I'm not much of an NBA fan, but I had a great time nonetheless. Sports are entertainment, and I would enjoy doing it all again.
After the game, I explored a bit more of the arena, including the upper levels. On the second level, I stumbled upon the FOX Sports crew working on their post-game broadcast. It was interesting to watch, but they didn't invite me to join them on air. I suppose I could have rolled into the frame, but figured it was better to leave Dallas without a rap sheet. :p
If you're traveling to Dallas and enjoy sports, check out a Mavericks game. It will surely make for a fun (and wheelchair accessible) evening.