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DALLAS-The $420-million American Airlines Center, the new home for the Dallas Mavericks and Stars, is on track for its July 28 opening.

“It’s been a great project and it’s taken a lot of cooperation and close coordination by a lot of entities,” Jack Hill, vice president of development for the Hillwood Urban Group, tells GlobeSt.com. Hill is overseeing the 860,000-sf project and says all that’s needed for the opening act, an Eagles concert, will be ready. He estimates there is 25,000 sf to 30,000 sf that won’t deliver until mid to late August in time for the Mavericks to start practicing on their new home court. The Stars will continue to use practice ice facilities scattered throughout the metroplex.

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

The number of seats basically hasn’t changed from the original plan, but there have been many others that have catapulted the $230 million projected cost to today’s $420 million price ticket. Hill tells GlobeSt.com that it’s an “apples to oranges” comparison because of the amenities now being put in place. There are 32 grilling stands instead of 16, 142 suites instead of 120, 12 escalators 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 the added amenities because its contribution is frozen at $125 million via a 7% hike on the city’s hotel occupancy and car rental taxes.

The center sits in the infill section, now popularly known as Victory, the joint undertaking of Hillwood and Palladium. The 70-acre Victory eventually will house up to eight million sf of entertainment, shopping, retail and residential space. The site will be connected via a street and sidewalks to Dallas’ historic West End. Hill says there is no target date to start Victory’s next phase, which most likely will be a combination of the retail and residential component.

The American Airlines Center is a design of the renowned David Schwarz of Washington, DC and HKS Inc. of Dallas, which is the project’s master architect. Austin Commercial Construction of Austin is the general contractor and SWA of Dallas is the landscape architect.

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