Thursday, December 27, 2018

How to Be a Devils Fan In Dallas -- 2018-19 Edition

"I'm in hell!" – Morgan Freeman
"Worse: You're in Texas!" – Chris Rock
-- Nurse Betty

This coming Wednesday night, the New Jersey Devils will travel to face the Dallas Stars, in what Texas native Molly Ivins – frequently sarcastically – called The Great State.

An example of her writing: "In the Great State, you can get 5 years for murder, and 99 for pot possession." (I once sent the late, great newspaper columnist an e-mail asking if it could be knocked down to 98 years if you didn't inhale. Sadly, she never responded.)

If there is one thing that fans of 31 out of the 32 NFL teams can agree on, it's that they hate the Cowboys. Or, as is said from New York to San Francisco, from Seattle to Miami, and especially in Philadelphia and Washington, "Dallas Sucks!"

That hatred is considerably reduced in hockey. Aside from fans of the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, they don't seem to hate anybody. And aside from the Minnesota Wild, the replacement for the team now in Dallas, nobody seems to hate them. Dallas fans may not like the Devils, especially after the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals, but that was nearly 16 years ago, and not really relevant to this trip.

Before You Go. It's not just The South, it's Texas. This is the State that elected George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and Bill Clements Governor; Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert to the House of Representatives; and Phil Gramm and Ted Cruz to the Senate -- and thinks the rest of the country isn't conservative enough. This is the State where, in political terms, somebody like Long Island's conservative Congressman Peter King is considered a sissy.

This is a State that thinks that poor nonwhites don't matter at all, and that poor whites only matter if you can convince them that, no matter how bad their life is, they're still better than the (slur on blacks) and the (slur on Hispanics).

So if you go to Dallas for this game, it would be best to avoid political discussions. And, for crying out loud, don't mention that, now over half a century ago, a liberal Democratic President was killed in Dallas. They might say JFK had it comin' 'cause he was a (N-word)-lovin' Communist. (Some people have included Clint Murchison, father of Clint Murchison Jr., the Cowboys' original owner, in the conspiracy theories, due to JFK's interest in eliminating a tax break known as the oil-depletion allowance.)

No. I'm not kidding. There are some of them who think like this -- and, among their own people, they will be less likely to hold back. So don't ask them what they think. About anything.

At any rate, before we go any further, enjoy Lewis Black's R-rated smackdown of Rick Perry and the State of Texas as a whole.

At least you'll be going in the Winter, so you won't have to deal with the usual Texas heat and humidity. Still, before you go, check the websites of the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (the "Startle-gram") for the weather. Right now, they're talking about it being in the high 40s during daylight on Thursday, and dropping to the low 30s by gametime. You will need to bring a Winter jacket.

Texas is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. (The exception is the southwestern corner, including El Paso, which borders New Mexico, so it's in the Mountain Time Zone.) Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Despite Texas' seeming foreignness (and that's before you factor in the Mexican-American influence, which improves things) and its embrace of its treasonous Confederate past, you don't need a passport to visit, and you don't need to change their money.

Tickets. The Stars averaged 18,110 fans per game this season. That's about 98 percent of capacity. Getting tickets will be tough.

In the Lower Level, the 100 sections, seats are $145 between the goals and $90 behind them. In the Platinum Level, the 200 sections, they're $120 between and $93 behind. In the Upper Level, the 300 sections, between the goals, they're $54 in the closer rows and $30 in the back; behind the goals, they're $30 in the closer rows and just $18 in the back.

Getting There. It is 1,551 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Dallas. So unless you want to be cooped up for 24-30 hours, you... are... flying.

Usually, flights from Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport are comparatively cheap. This week, you can get a nonstop round-trip flight on United Airlines for $622. There is Orange Line rail service from the airport to Dallas' Union Station, but it will take about an hour and a half.
Dallas' Union Station

Amtrak offers the Lake Shore Limited (a variation on the old New York Central Railroad's 20th Century Limited), leaving Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago's Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then switch to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 PM, and arrive at Dallas' Union Station (400 S. Houston Street at Wood Street) the following morning at 11:30. It would be $482 round-trip.

UPDATE: Forget Amtrak this time. The previous days being New Year's Eve and Day, the trains going west are sold out.

As with American Airlines, Dallas is actually Greyhound's hometown, or at least the location of its corporate headquarters: 205 S. Lamar Street at Commerce Street, which is also the address of their Dallas station. If you look at Greyhound buses, you'll notice they all have Texas license plates. So, how bad can the bus be?

Well, it is cheaper: $648 round-trip, and advanced purchase can get it down to $413. But it won't be much shorter: It's a 40-hour trip, and you'll have to change buses at least twice, in Richmond, Virginia (and I don't like the Richmond station) and either Atlanta or Memphis.

Oh... kay. So what about driving? As I said, over 1,500 miles. I would definitely recommend bringing a friend and sharing the driving. The fastest way from New York to Dallas is to get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West across the State and into Pennsylvania, then turn to Interstate 81 South, across Pennsylvania, the "panhandles" of Maryland and West Virginia, and across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into Tennessee, where I-81 will flow into Interstate 40. Take I-40 into Arkansas, and switch to Interstate 30 in Little Rock, taking it into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, a.k.a. "The Metroplex." Between the forks of Interstate 35, I-30 is named the Tom Landry Freeway, after the legendary Cowboys coach.

Once you get across the Hudson River into New Jersey, you should be in New Jersey for about an hour, Pennsylvania for 3 hours, Maryland for 15 minutes, West Virginia for half an hour, Virginia for 5 and a half hours (more than the entire trip will be before you get to Virginia), 8 hours and 15 minutes in Tennessee, 3 hours in Arkansas, and about 3 hours and 45 minutes in Texas.

Taking 45-minute rest stops in or around (my recommendations) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, on the Virginia/Tennessee State Line; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas; and accounting for overruns there and for traffic at each end of the journey, and we're talking 31 hours.

Once In the City. Dallas (population about 1.3 million, founded in 1856) was named after George Mifflin Dallas, a Mayor of Philadelphia and Senator from Pennsylvania who was James K. Polk's Vice President (1845-49). Fort Worth (about 850,000, founded in 1849) was named for William Jenkins Worth, a General in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. And Arlington (400,000, founded in 1876) was named for the Virginia city across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., as a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The population of the entire Metroplex is about 6.8 million and climbing, although when you throw in Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, the total population of the Cowboys' "market" is about 19 million -- a little less than the New York Tri-State Area, and soon it will surpass us.

Commerce Street divides Dallas street addresses into North and South. Beckley Avenue, across the Trinity River from downtown, appears to divide them into East and West. The sales tax in the State of Texas is 6.25 percent, in Dallas County 8.25 percent, and in Tarrant County (including Arlington and Fort Worth) 8 percent even.

ZIP Codes for the Dallas side of the Metroplex start with the digits 75; and for the Fort Worth side, 76. The Area Codes are 214, 469, 940 and 972 for Dallas; and 817 for Fort Worth and Arlington.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) runs buses and light rail trains. A 2-hour pass costs $2.50, and a day pass is $5.00 local and $10.00 regional (if you want to go beyond Dallas to Arlington or Fort Worth).
Green Line train just outside downtown

Dallas' beltway is named for 2 Presidents: Interstate 635, to the north, is the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway; while Interstate 20, to the south, is the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway. I-20, along with Interstate 820, the Jim Wright Freeway (named for the local Congressman who was an ally of LBJ's, an enemy of Reagan's, and Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989), is Fort Worth's beltway. And, as I said, I-30, the Tom Landry Freeway, connects the 2 cities and goes through Arlington.

Dallas proper is about 42 percent Hispanic, 28 percent white, 24 percent black, and 3 percent Asian. South Dallas is mostly black, while North Dallas is mostly white. The northern suburbs are rich, and so conservative, they make New Jersey Republicans look like Socialists.

Going In. The NBA's Dallas Mavericks and the NHL's Dallas Stars play at the American Airlines Center, or the AAC. Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami (which was really confusing when the Mavs played the Heat in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals), it looks like a cross between a rodeo barn and an airplane hangar. It is 1 of 11 arenas that is currently home to both an NBA team and an NHL team.
The address is 2500 Victory Avenue, in the Victory Park neighborhood, 2 miles north of downtown, at the corner of Houston & Olive Streets. Bus 052 or Green Line to Victory station. If you drive in, parking can be had for as little as $5.00.

Since you're most likely to arrive from downtown, by either car or train, you're likely to enter from the south. The rink runs northwest-to-southeast.
The arena opened in 2001, and has also been the Metroplex's major concert and pro wrestling center. It's also hosted the Big 12 Conference basketball tournament. Its 1st event was a concert by The Eagles -- appropriate, since American Airlines uses an eagle in its logo, and also because there was once a minor-league baseball team called the Dallas Eagles.

Food. Going along with the "Everything is big in Texas" idea, you would think that the Stars' arena would have lots of concession stands and big portions. You would also think they would rely heavily on Southwest and Tex-Mex food. They don't disappoint in those regards.

Going with the Southwest/Tex-Mex theme, they have stands labeled Grill Zone, High Steaks (a play on "high stakes" gambling), Stampede Station, Taco Bueno. There's a basketball-themed stand called Fast Break and a hockey-themed stand called Center Ice. They have a Pizza Hut, and as far as I know they have the only venue in North American major league sports with a 7-Eleven. As for locations within the arena, click this link.

Team History Displays. The Stars arrived in 1993, which means they've now been in Dallas nearly as long as they were in Minnesota. They now have some history. Since their arrival, they have been a Playoff contender more often than not.

They won the Stanley Cup in 1999, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in the Finals, on Brett Hull's goal in overtime in Game 6. (Before you tell me the goal should have been waved off: I agree, but the game would still have been tied. Even if the Sabres had won, they would still have had to win Game 7 in Dallas. They got screwed out of the game, but it's a stretch to say they were screwed out of the Cup.) They won another Western Conference title in 2000, but, of course, our Devils beat them.

They won the President's Trophy for best overall record in the League in 1998 and 1999; and Division titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2016.
The Stars do not hang banners of their Minnesota achievements -- nor should they, nor should any moved team. As the Minnesota North Stars, they won the old Norris Division in 1982 and 1984, and the Campbell Conference in 1981 and 1991, but never won the Cup.

They do, however, hang banners for retired numbers from the Minnesota years. This includes that of Bill Masterton, 19, a collegiate star at the University of Denver and a long-time minor leaguer who played only the 1st season in Minnesota, 1967-68, when he sustained a head injury and became the only player to die directly as the result of an injury in an NHL game.

They've also retired the 8 of Bill Goldworthy, who also played only in Minnesota, and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Semifinals (before that meant "Conference Finals") in 1968 and 1971; and the 7 of Neal Broten, who was from Minnesota and helped them reach the 1981 and 1991 Finals before moving with them to Dallas, coming to the Devils, scoring the Cup-winning goal in 1995, before returning to Dallas and closing his career.

From their Dallas years, they've retired the 9 of Mike Modano, who started with them in Minnesota in 1989, reached the 1991 Finals, moved with them, won the 1999 Cup with them, and stayed with them until 2010; and the 26 of Jeri Lehtinen, the only one thus far to have only played with the franchise entirely in Dallas, 1995 to 2010, including the 1999 Cup win.
Lorne "Gump" Worsley, who finished his career with them in 1974 as the last NHL goalie without a facemask, and was a part of that near-miss in 1971, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. So is Dino Ciccarelli, a member of the 1981 Finalists. So is Modano, of the 1991 Finalists. From the 1999 Cup win, so are Modano, Brett Hull, Ed Belfour, and Joe Nieuwendyk, who also won the Cup with Calgary in 1989 and the Devils in 2003. (UPDATE: Guy Carbonneau and Sergei Zubov were elected in 2019.)

In 1998, The Hockey News named its 100 Greatest Hockey Players, and Hull was the only Stars player chosen. He and Modano were named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players in 2017.

There were several Minnesota-born players on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, coached by Minnesotan Herb Brooks. As a result, the North Stars tried to acquire as many players from that team as they could, and, at one time or another, got Jim Craig, Mark Johnson, Steve Christoff, Mark Pavelich, and the aforementioned Neal Broten. Broten was the only one to last long enough to also play for the team as the Dallas Stars.

Brooks, Broten, former player and coach Lou Nanne, former executive Walter Bush, former owner Robert Ridder, and former coach Glen Sonmor all received the Lester Patrick Trophy, for contributions to hockey in America; but all got it for what they did in Minnesota, not Dallas.

In 2013, the Stars named a 20th Anniversary Team, with only Dallas players eligible. From the 1999 Cup win: Forwards Hull, Modano, Nieuwendyk, Lehtinen, Guy Carbonneau, Jamie Langenbrunner (also a 2003 Devils Cup-winner) and Bill Guerin (a 1995 Devils Cup-winner); defensemen Derian Hatcher, Craig Ludwig, Richard Matvichuk, Darryl Sydor and Sergi Zubov; and goalie Belfour. From after that Cup win: Forwards Brenden Morrow, Stu Barnes, Loui Eriksson and Jame Benn; defenseman Stephane Robidas; and goalie Marty Turco. There was no 25th Anniversary Team in 2018.

Since Houston doesn't have an NHL team, there is no geographic rival for the Stars. Nor do they think they have a rivalry with the team that replaced them in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Wild. Wild fans may disagree.

Stuff. The AAC (American Airlines Center) Fan Shops can be found in Sections 100 and 103, on the Plaza concourse. A larger store, The Hangar, is on the south plaza of the arena. These stores may sell Western wear (actual "cowboy" clothing, including oversized Cowboy hats) with team logos in it.

You don't usually think of Dallas having much of a literary tradition -- or of Texans being functionally literate -- but there are a few books about the Mavericks. The sports staff of The Dallas Morning News put together the 1999 title tribute Dallas Stars: 1999 NHL Champs. (I hope the writing inside contains more thought than does the title outside.) Last July, Erin Butler published the Stars' entry in the Inside the NHL series.

The NHL put out an official DVD retrospective of the 1999 Finals, in which the Stars won, so far, their only title.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Stars' fans 29th -- ahead of only Arizona: "Can't blame last year's snowstorm. Stars crowds have been sparse for years." I don't know what they're talking about: The Stars averaged over 17,000 fans a game that season.

Dallas Stars fans don't like the Chicago Blackhawks, or the Los Angeles Kings, or the fans of of those. They may not like New Yorkers or New Jerseyans, but they don't have any specific problems with Devils fans. Wearing your team's gear probably won't get you in trouble. Just to be on the safe side, though, don't mention 2000 or Jason Arnott.

And, this being a sports arena, you're gonna get searched, and so is everyone else, so Texas' infamously lenient gun laws will be rendered useless. You're not going to get shot. Even JFK and J.R. Ewing wouldn't have gotten shot at the American Airlines Center.

This Wednesday's Devils-Stars game will be Children's Health Youth Jersey Night. The 1st 5,000 kids (the team website doesn't say what the age cutoff is) to arrive will get free Stars "youth jerseys."

Celena Rae, a former American Idol contestant, is the Stars' regular National Anthem singer, and she's up there with the Flyers' Lauren Hart as an Anthem singer that will get a man's flag waving. Unfortunately, when she gets to the line, "Whose broad stripes and bright... " the fans will yell out, "STARS!" They also copy Detroit by shouting, "Who cares?" after a player is introduced.
No broad stripes, but a bright Star.

The Stars' goal song is "Puck Off," written specifically for them by Pantera. Unfortunately, their fans have no chant more interesting than, "Let's go, Stars!" Even more unfortunately, Texans are so dumb (How dumb are they?) that there's a Reddit thread explaining how to do this: Always "Let's go, Stars!" the way some New Yorkers would chant, "Let's go, Mets!" -- never "Let's go, Sta-ars! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)" the way some of us would chant, "Let's go, Yankees!" "Let's go, Rangers!" or "Let's go, Devils!"

Some stars fans have even stood up to people who do that by chanting, "You can't do that! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)" And they never chant, "Let's go, Dal-las! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)" And when the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas" is played, they are very enthusiastic about, "The Stars at night are big and bright!"

The Stars' mascot is Victor E. Green, whose name is a combination of "victory" (winning and the arena's Victory Avenue address) and "green" (the team's main color and the name of moving owner Norm Green, known to Minnesotans as Norm Greed).
Known as Vic for short, he's... an alien. Officially. His antennae are hockey stick blades. This might make sense for a team based in Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center, and with teams known as the Astros and Rockets, and whose old hockey team was called the Aeros. But in Dallas? The spaciest thing about that city was some of the scripts for the TV show Dallas.

After the Game. Dallas has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to crime, but you'll be pretty far from it. The Victory Park area, including the arena, is well-protected. As long as you don't make any snide remarks about the Stars or any liberal political pronouncements, safety will not be an issue.

Buffalo Joe's, at 3636 Frankford Avenue, is the local Giants fan bar. But it's 22 miles due north of downtown Dallas. Even further, the Cape Buffalo Grille, at 17727 Addison Road in Addison, 28 miles northeast of AT&T Stadium, has been described by a Giant fan as "a lifesaver for people from New York and New Jersey." Humperdink's, at 6050 Greenville Avenue in north Dallas, seems to be the local home of Jet fans.

If you visit Dallas during the European soccer season, as we are now in, the best-known "football pub" in town is Trinity Hall, at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, just off the SMU campus. Blue Line to Mockingbird Station.

Sidelights. Despite their new rapid-rail system, Dallas is almost entirely a car-friendly, everything-else-unfriendly city. Actually, it's not that friendly at all. It's a city for oil companies, for banks, for insurance companies, things normal Americans tend to hate. Despite its reputation for far-right political craziness, Texas still prides itself on its hospitality to visitors; and, as one Houston native once put it, "Dallas is not in Texas."

In fact, most Texans, especially people from Fort Worth (and, to a slightly lesser extent, those from Houston) seem to think of Dallas the way the rest of America thinks of New York: They hate it, and they think that it represents all that is bad about their homeland. Until, that is, they need a win. Or money.

On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of "America's 25 Most Fun Cities," and Dallas came in in 14th. 

Before the AAC opened in 2001, the Mavericks and Stars both played at the Reunion Arena. This building hosted the 1984 Republican Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a 2nd term as President. To New York Tri-State Area fans, it is probably best remembered as the place where Jason Arnott's double-overtime goal won Game 6 and gave the New Jersey Devils the 2000 Stanley Cup over the defending Champion Stars. The 1986 NCAA Final Four, won by Louisville over Duke, was held there.
It was demolished in November 2009, 5 months before Texas Stadium was imploded. The arena didn't even get to celebrate a 30th Anniversary. 777 Sports Street at Houston Viaduct, downtown, a 10-minute walk from Union Station.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Stadium, at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It's 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving. It hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2005 and 2006. The U.S. soccer team has played there 4 times, notching a win and a loss against Guatemala, and wins over Honduras and Ecuador. The National Soccer Hall of Fame will open there on November 2, 2018.

Toyota Stadium hosted the knockout round of the CONCACAF Women's Championship in October 2018. The Semifinals were held on the 14th, America beat Jamaica 6-0, and Canada beat Panama 7-0. On the 17th, Jamaica beat Panama 4-2 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 3rd place game, and America beat Canada 2-0 in the Final.

The Dallas Sportatorium was built in 1935 to host professional wrestling, burned down in 1953 (legend has it that it was arson by a rival promoter), was rebuilt as a 4,500-seat venue, and continued to host wrestling even as it was replaced by larger arenas and fell into a rat-infested, crumbling decline, before a 2001 fire (this one was likely the result of the neglect, rather than arson) finally led to its 2003 demolition. Elvis Presley sang there early in his career, on April 16, May 29, June 18 and September 3, 1955. The site is now vacant. 1000 S. Industrial Blvd. at Cadiz Street, just south of downtown.

The Dallas Memorial Auditorium opened in 1957, and hosted some Chaparrals games. The Beatles played there on September 18, 1964. Elvis sang there on November 13, 1971; June 6, 1975; and December 28, 1976. It is now part of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, named for Texas' 1st female U.S. Senator. 650 S. Griffin Street, downtown.

Elvis also sang in Fort Worth, at the Tarrant County Convention Center, now the Fort Worth Convention Center, on June 18, 1972; June 15 and 16, 1974; and June 3 and July 3, 1976. 1201 Houston Street. A short walk from the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center.

About 19 miles west of downtown Dallas, and 15 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, in Arlington, in Tarrant County, are the new homes of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Globe Life Ballpark (formerly known as The Ballpark In Arlington, AmeriQuest Field and Rangers Ballpark) is at 1000 Ballpark Way, off Exit 29 on the Landry Freeway. It sits right between Six Flags and AT&T Stadium. Across Legends Way from the ballpark is a parking lot where the original home of the Rangers, Arlington Stadium, stood from 1965 to 1993. It was a minor-league park called Turnpike Stadium before the announcement of the move of the team led to its expansion for the 1972 season. AT&T Stadium, the new home of the Cowboys, is at 1 AT&T Way. The 2 stadiums are 7/10ths of a mile apart.

Globe Life Park's days as an MLB facility are numbered. A stadium with a retractable roof is finally under construction, across Randol Mill Road to the south of the current ballpark. It will be named Globe Life Field, and is scheduled to open for the 2020 season. The current ballpark will be refit as part of the Texas Live! entertainment complex.

Public transportation is a relatively new idea in Texas. While Dallas has built a subway and light rail system, and it has a bus service (get a Day Pass for $5.00), until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country with no public transportation at all.

If you got a hotel near the various Arlington attractions, you're in luck: The Arlington Entertainment District Trolley goes to the area hotels and to the stadiums and theme parks. But if your hotel is in Dallas, you'll have to take Trinity Rail Express (TRE) to Centerport Station, and then transfer to bus 221, and take that to Collins & Andrew Streets. And even then, you'd have to walk over a mile down Collins to get to the stadium. The whole thing is listed as taking an hour and 50 minutes.

But at least it's now possible to get from Dallas to a Cowboy game and back without spending $50 on taxis. So how much is it? From Union Station to Centerport, each way, is $2.50. I don't know what the zones are for the bus, but a Day Pass is $5.00, meaning that getting there and back could top out at $10, which is reasonable considering the distance involved.

Originally named Cowboys Stadium, but nicknamed the Palace In Dallas, the Death Star, Jerry World and Jerr-assic Park, it has now hosted a Super Bowl (XLV, Green Bay over Pittsburgh), a College Football National Championship Game (2014-15, Ohio State over Oregon), an NCAA Final Four (in 2014, Connecticut over Kentucky), some major prizefights and concerts (including Texas native George Strait opening the stadium with Reba McIntire, and recently holding the final show of his "farewell tour" there), and, as mentioned, the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

It hosts several special college football games: The annual Cotton Bowl Classic, the annual Cowboys Classic, the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game, the Big 12 Championship, and, on January 12, 2015, it hosted the 1st National Championship game in college football's playoff era: Ohio State 42, Oregon 20. It has been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

Mexico's national soccer team has now played there 6 times. The U.S. team has played there twice: A 3-1 win over Hondruas in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 24, 2013; and a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the Gold Cup on July 22, 2017. The national teams of Brazil and Argentina, Mexican clubs Club America and San Luis, and European giants Chelsea, Barcelona and AS Roma have also played there.

The Cowboys offer tours of this Texas-sized facility, which will make the new Yankee Stadium seem sensible by comparison.

Don't bother looking for the former home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium, because "the Hole Bowl" was demolished in 2010. If you must, the address was 2401 E. Airport Freeway, in Irving. The Cowboys reached 7 Super Bowls, winning 5, while playing there, made their Thanksgiving Day home game an annual classic, and became "America's Team" there. So many games were broadcast from there that some people joked that CBS stood for Cowboys Broadcasting Service. SMU played some home games there, and the U.S. soccer team played there once, a 1991 loss to Costa Rica.

The North American Soccer League's Dallas Tornado played most of its home games there, featuring native son Kyle Rote Jr., son of the SMU grad who played for the Giants in the 1950s. They hosted the 1973 NASL Final, but lost to the Philadelphia Atoms.

But they won the 1971 Final, 2-1 over the Atlanta Chiefs, at what was then their home field, Franklin Stadium, across from Hillcrest High School in North Dallas. 10000 Hillcrest Road, about 8 miles north of downtown. Red Line to Walnut Hill, then transfer to Bus 506 to Meadow & Stone Canyon, and then walk about half a mile west.

The Cowboys' 1st home, from 1960 to 1970, was the Cotton Bowl, which also hosted the Cotton Bowl game from 1937 to 2009, after which it was moved to AT&T Stadium. On 5 occasions, the game decided the National Championship: 1959-60, Syracuse over Texas; 1963-64, Texas over Navy; 1964-65, Arkansas over Nebraska; 1969-70, Texas over Notre Dame; and 1977-78, Notre Dame over Texas.

It also hosted the original NFL version of the Dallas Texans in 1952; the AFL's Dallas Texans from 1960 to 1962, before they moved and became the Kansas City Chiefs; some (but not all) home games of Southern Methodist University between 1932 and 2000; the Tornado in their 1967 and 1968 seasons' some games of soccer's 1994 World Cup, 7 U.S. soccer games, most recently a draw to Mexico in 2004; and an Elvis concert on October 11, 1956, the 20,000 fans being his biggest crowd until he resumed touring in 1970.

But it's old, opening in 1930, and the only thing that's still held there is the annual "Red River Rivalry" game between the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma, every 2nd Saturday in October, and that's only because that's the weekend when the Texas State Fair is held, as the stadium is in Fair Park. (Just look for the statue of "Big Tex" -- you can't miss him.) While it doesn't seem fair that Oklahoma's visit to play Texas should be called a "neutral site" if it's in the State of Texas, the fact remains that each school gets half the tickets, and it's actually slightly closer to OU's campus in Norman, 191 miles, than it is from UT's in Austin, 197 miles. The address is 3750 The Midway.

Next-door is the African-American Museum of Dallas. 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., in the Fair Park section of south Dallas. Bus 012 or 026, or Green Line light rail to Fair Park station. Be advised that this is generally considered to be a high-crime area of Dallas.

This year, the WNBA team formerly known as the Detroit Shock and the Tulsa Shock becomes the Dallas Wings, and begins play at the College Park Center. Opening in 2012, this 7,000-seat arena hosts the athletic teams of the University of Texas at Arlington. 601 S. Pecan Street, about 2 miles southwest of the Rangers' and Cowboys' stadiums. TRE to Centerport, MAX Bus to Center & Border.

Before there was the Texas Rangers, and before the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs minor league team that opened Turnpike/Arlington Stadium in 1965, there were the Dallas team alternately called the Steers, the Rebels, the Eagles and the Rangers; and the Fort Worth Cats. Dallas won Texas League (Double-A) Pennants in 1926, 1929, 1941, 1946 and 1953. They played at Burnett Field, which opened in 1924, and was abandoned after the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats merged to become the Spurs in 1965. Currently, it's a vacant lot. 1500 E. Jefferson Blvd. at Colorado Blvd. Bus 011.

The Cats won TL Pennants in 1895, 1905, 1906, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1939 and 1948. Those 6 straight Pennants in the Twenties became a pipeline of stars for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1930 Pennant featured Dizzy Dean and a few other future members of the Cards' 1930s "Gashouse Gang."

The Cats played at LaGrave Field, the first version of which opened in 1900, and was replaced in 1926, again after a fire in 1949, and one more time in 2002, as a new Fort Worth Cats team began play in an independent league. 301 NE 6th Street. Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center, then Number 1 bus.

Lone Star Park is the region's major horse racing track. It hosted the 2004 Breeders' Cup. 1000 Lone Star Parkway in Grand Prairie, 12 miles west of downtown Dallas, and about halfway between Arlington and Irving. No public transportation.

One more baseball-themed place in Texas that might interest a New York sports fan: Due to his cancer treatments and liver transplant, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the off-seasons and after his baseball career, spent the end of his life at the Baylor University Medical Center. 3501 Junius Street at Gaston Avenue. Bus 019.

Merlyn Mantle died in 2009, and while it can be presumed that Mickey's surviving sons, Danny and David, inherited his memorabilia, I don't know what happened to their house, which (I've been led to believe) was in a gated community and probably not accessible to the public anyway; so even if I could find the address, I wouldn't list it here. (For all I know, one or both sons may live there, and I've heard that one of them -- Danny, I think -- is a Tea Party flake, and even if he wasn't, the family shouldn't be disturbed just because you're a Yankee Fan and their father was one of the Yankees.)

If you truly wish to pay your respects to this baseball legend: Mickey, Merlyn, and their sons Mickey Jr. and Billy are laid to rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Also buried there are Tom Landry, tennis star Maureen Connolly, oil baron H.L. Hunt, Senator John Tower, Governor and Senator W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, bluesman Freddie King, actress Greer Garson and Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. 7405 West Northwest Highway at Durham Street. Red Line to Park Lane station, then 428 Bus to the cemetery.

If there's 2 non-sports things the average American knows about Dallas, it's that the city is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and where Ewing Oil President J.R. Ewing was shot on March 21, 1980. Elm, Main and Commerce Streets merge to go over railroad tracks near Union Station, and then go under Interstate 35E, the Stemmons Freeway – that's the "triple underpass" so often mentioned in accounts of the JFK assassination.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now named The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, is at the northwest corner of Elm & Houston Streets, while the "grassy knoll" is to the north of Elm, and the west of the Depository. Like Ford's Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and the area surrounding it in Washington, the area around Dealey Plaza is, structurally speaking, all but unchanged from the time the President in question was gunned down, an oddity in Dallas, where newer construction always seems to be happening.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in downtown Dallas and died, while John Ross Ewing Jr. was shot in downtown Dallas and lived. Where's the justice in that? J.R. was shot in his office at Ewing Oil's headquarters, which, in the memorable opening sequence of Dallas, was shown to be in the Renaissance Tower, at 1201 Elm Street, 6 blocks east of Dealey Plaza. The actual incident, however, was filmed on a Hollywood soundstage, so if you show up and ask to see J.R.'s office, you'll be out of luck.

In addition to the preceding locations, Elvis sang in North Texas:

* At the Carthage Milling Company in Carthage, 160 miles southeast of downtown Dallas, on November 12, 1955 (the night of the dance in Back to the Future).

* At the high school gymnasium in DeKalb, 150 miles northeast, on March 4, 1955.

* At Owl Park in Gainesville, 70 miles north, on Apirl 14, 1955.

* In Gilmer, 125 miles east, at the Rural Electrification Administration Building on January 26, 1955, and at Trinity High School on September 26, 1955.

* In Gladewater, 120 miles east, at the Mint Club on November 23 and Dcember 24, 1954, the high school gym on April 30 and November 19, 1955, and at the baseball park on August 10, 1955.

* The City Auditorium in Greenville, 50 miles northeast, on October 5, 1955.

* In Hawkins, 110 miles east, at the high school on December 20, 1954 and the Humble Oil Company Camp on January 24, 1955.

* In Henderson, 140 miles southeast, at the Rodeo Arena on August 9, 1955.

* In Joinerville, 130 miles southeast, at Gaston High School on January 28, 1955.

* At Driller Park in Kilgore, 120 miles east, on August 12, 1955.

* At the Reo Palm Isle Club in Longview, 130 miles east, on January 27, March 31, August 11 and November 18, 1955.

* At the American Legion Hall in Mount Pleasant, 120 miles northeast, on December 31, 1954.

* In New Boston, 150 miles northeast, at the Red River Arsenal on December 31, 1954, and at the high school, first at the gym on January 11, 1955, and then at the football stadium on June 6, 1955.

* At the Boys Club Gymnasium in Paris, 100 miles northeast, on October 4, 1955.

* At the Recreation Hall in Stephenville, 100 miles southwest, on July 4, 1955.

* At the Mayfair Building in Tyler, 100 miles southeast, on January 25, May 23 and August 8, 1955.

* At the Heart O Texas Coliseum (now the Extraco Events Center) in Waco, 100 miles south, on April 23, 1955, and April 17 and October 12, 1956.

* And in Wichita Falls, 140 miles northwest, at the M-B Corral on April 25, 1955, at Spudder Park on August 22, 1956, and at the Memorial Auditorium on January 19 and April 9, 1956.

The Renaissance Tower was Dallas' tallest building from 1974 to 1985. In real life, it is the headquarters for Neiman Marcus. Bank of America Plaza, a block away on Elm at Griffith Street, is now the tallest building in Dallas, at 921 feet, although not the tallest in Texas (there's 2 in Houston that are taller). Dallas' most familiar structure -- aside from AT&T Stadium, the Texas School Book Depository and Dallas' Southfork Ranch -- is the Reunion Tower, 561 feet high, part of the Hyatt Regency complex. 300 Reunion Blvd. at Young Street, just to the west of Union Station and to the southwest of Dealey Plaza.

The real Southfork Ranch is at 3700 Hogge Drive (that's pronounced "Hoag") in Parker, 28 miles northeast of the city. (Again, you'll need a car.) It's not nearly as old as the Ewing family's fictional history would suggest: It was built in 1970, only 8 years before the series premiered. It's now a conference center, and, like the replica of the Ponderosa Ranch that Lorne Greene had built to look like his TV home on Bonanza, it is designed to resemble the Ewing family home as seen on both the original 1978-91 series and the 2012-14 revival. It is open to tours, for an admission fee of $9.50.

Dallas values bigness, but unless you count Southfork and Dealey Plaza, it isn't big on museums. The best known is the Dallas Museum of Art, downtown at 1717 N. Harwood Street at Flora Street. Nearby is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, named for ol' H. Ross himself, at 2201 N. Field Street at Broom Street.

The Dallas area is also home to 2 major football-playing colleges: Southern Methodist University in north Dallas, which, as alma mater of Laura Bush, was chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (now open); and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

SMU played at Ownby Stadium (when not playing at the Cotton Bowl) from 1926 to 1998. The Dallas Tornado of the old North American Soccer League also played there from 1976 to 1979. It was demolished, and replaced with the 32,000-seat Gerald F. Ford stadium. (No relation to the 1974-77 President who'd been a star center on the University of Michigan football team, this Gerald Ford is a billionaire banker who gave $42 million of his own money to build it.) 5800 Ownby Drive.

The Bush Library is at 2943 SMU Blvd. & North Central Expressway, a 5-minute walk from Ford Stadium, Moody Coliseum, and the university bookstore, which, like so many university bookstores, is a Barnes & Noble (not named for Dallas character Cliff Barnes).

SMU is also home to Moody Coliseum, home court of their basketball team. The Dallas Chaparrals played ABA games there from 1967 until 1973, when they became the San Antonio Spurs. 6024 Airline Road. All SMU locations can be accessed by the Blue or Red Line to Mockingbird Station.

SMU has produced players like Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg, Dandy Don Meredith, and the "Pony Express" backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (both now TV-network studio analysts), while TCU has produced Slingin' Sammy Baugh, Jim Swink and Bob Lilly. Both schools have had their highs and their lows, and following their 1987 "death penalty" (for committing recruiting violations while already on probation), and their return to play in 1989 under Gregg as coach, SMU are now what college basketball fans would call a "mid-major" school.

Ironically, TCU, normally the less lucky of the schools, seriously challenged for the 2009, 2010 and 2014 National Championships, but their own "mid-major" schedule doomed them in that regard. TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium hosted the U.S. soccer team's 1988 loss to Ecuador. 2850 Stadium Drive. Trinity Rail Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Station, transfer to Bus 7 to University & Princeton, then walk 6 blocks west.

Aside from Dallas, TV shows that have shot in, or been set in, the Dallas area include Walker, Texas Ranger, Prison Break, the new series Queen of the South (based on a Mexican telenovela), and the ridiculous, short-lived ABC nighttime soap GCB (which stood for "Good Christian Bitches").

The Fox cartoon King of the Hill was definitely in Texas, but clues suggested that their fictional town of Arlen could be in any of several different parts of the State. The fact that they're obviously all Cowboys fans -- the show premiered in 1997, a few days after the last Houston Oilers home game -- suggests it's near Dallas.

Movies about, or involving, the JFK assassination usually have to shoot in Dallas: The 1983 NBC miniseries Kennedy with Martin Sheen, JFK, Love Field, Ruby, Watchmen, LBJ (with Bryan Cranston as the Texan who succeeded him), and the Hulu series 11/22/63, based on Stephen King's fantasy novel.

Other movies shot in the city include the 1962 version of State Fair, Bonnie and Clyde, Mars Needs Women, Logan's Run, The Lathe of Heaven, Silkwood, Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Trip to Bountiful, Born on the Fourth of July, Problem Child, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (not about the football team), The Apostle, Boys Don't Cry, Dallas Buyers Club, the football films Necessary Roughness and Any Given Sunday, and, of course, the porno classic Debbie Does Dallas.

However, it might surprise you to know that RoboCop, which was set in a Detroit that was purported to be in a near future when the city was even worse than it then was in real life, was filmed in Dallas. What does that say about Dallas? (To me, it says, "This is another reason why Dallas sucks.")


Texas is a weird place, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception. But it's a pretty good area for sports, and it even seems to have finally embraced baseball as something more than something to do between football seasons.

If you can afford it, go, and help your fellow Devils fans make the Stars feel like they're in Jersey. But remember to avoid using the oft-heard phrase "Dallas Sucks." The city does, the team doesn't. At any rate, in this case, keep the truth to yourself!

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