"It's been a great project and it's taken a lot of cooperationand close coordination by a lot of entities," Jack Hill, vicepresident of development for the Hillwood Urban Group, tellsGlobeSt.com. Hill is overseeing the 860,000-sf project and says allthat's needed for the opening act, an Eagles concert, will beready. He estimates there is 25,000 sf to 30,000 sf that won'tdeliver until mid to late August in time for the Mavericks to startpracticing on their new home court. The Stars will continue to usepractice ice facilities scattered throughout the metroplex.

Just two days ago, 10,000 gallons of water had gushed onto thefloor to test the system for the Stars' ice. If all works well, theblack ice will be removed by week's end and the area will sitdormant until late summer when the rink will be re-iced. Theproject's Web site says this also is the week for large AmericanAirlines logos to be hoisted onto the building's four sides as wellas time to test the central air conditioning system. Hill reportsthat this week's work also entails street and parking lot pavingand landscaping. The American Airlines Center, which had brokenground in September 1999, boasts one-of-a-kind retractable seating.There are 19,200 seats available for Mavericks' games, 18,500 forthe Stars and 20,000 for center-stage events.

The number of seats basically hasn't changed from the originalplan, but there have been many others that have catapulted the $230million projected cost to today's $420 million price ticket. Hilltells GlobeSt.com that it's an "apples to oranges" comparisonbecause of the amenities now being put in place. There are 32grilling stands instead of 16, 142 suites instead of 120, 12escalators instead of eight, and 860,000 sf instead of 740,000 sf.The city has not had to bear any of the increased costs from theadded amenities because its contribution is frozen at $125 millionvia a 7% hike on the city's hotel occupancy and car rentaltaxes.

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