Certain ideas that many have about Dallas are true – there’s big oil, vast expanses of cattle country, and cowboy culture is alive and kicking. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s true that things really are bigger in Texas, and, for sports fans especially, there’s a smorgasbord of ball-bouncin’, puck-smackin’, pigskin throwin’ to last a lifetime. The city’s sport culture is one of the biggest in the United States and it plays an insurmountable role in its local economy and history.
There aren’t many similarities between Australian and American sports – you’d be hard-pressed to find local footy and cricket teams in Dallas – but what you will find are some of the most passionate sports fans in the world. Baseball and football (ahem, gridiron) reign supreme in Dallas, with basketball, hockey and soccer not far behind. Every season features a different Dallas team, from the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars in autumn and to the must-visit 100,000+ capacity AT & T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, in winter, to the early spring playoff runs of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and, finally, the classic summer American experience – Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers in the Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Dallas is one of only 12 American cities that has teams in all of America’s four major leagues and they enjoy more success than most. And we haven’t even touched on high school and college gridiron, which many would argue is the toast of the town– perhaps the entire state of Texas.
Fancy yourself a fan of American sports but not sure where to start? Start your American sports adventure in a big, big way in Dallas.[related_articles]28640,28640[/related_articles]
Dunk In Love
Few sports are more global in their reach than basketball and the Dallas Mavericks feature an excellent global representative – long-time captain and face of the franchise, German Dirk Nowitzki. The 36-year-old Power Forward, who stands at well over 2m-tall, is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in the NBA. He led the team to an improbable NBA Championship in 2011, where he was awarded the NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player. And, besides the oft-maligned stars of the Dallas Cowboys, he is arguably the greatest athlete to play in Dallas in recent memory. With his best years admittedly behind him, now may be your last chance to witness one of the most incredible basketball players of all time.
The Dallas Mavericks are still a formidable contender in the NBA’s hotly-contested Southwest Division, and a trip to the American Airlines Centre would also give you a great opportunity to show a little national pride. The Mavericks face off against the San Antonio Spurs four times each season, and the rival team features Aussie Patty Mills. In fact, the only time you’ll be forgiven by the locals for cheering for the Spurs in Dallas is if you bring an Australian flag along for the ride.
Wait, what? I know what you’re thinking – why is ice hockey played in Dallas, where temperatures almost never drop below freezing? Dallas was one of the many southern United States cities to be granted NHL teams during the mid-’90s expansion and the hockey lovers of the city haven’t looked back. The Stars captured the 1999 Stanley Cup as NHL champions and, today, feature one of its most exciting rosters.
But the kicker? If the game of ice hockey has always intrigued you (and why wouldn’t it?), you’re looking at some of the best value tickets in Dallas. According to one report, average Dallas Stars ticket prices are in the bottom third of the league, meaning you’ll get to experience one of the most fast-paced games on the planet at just a fraction of the usual price. And when the season extends into the spring and the temperatures soar into the mid-30s, hanging out in a hockey rink won’t sound like such a bad idea.
Take Me Down To The Ball Game
Few things evoke the idea of a typical summer evening in America better than a night at the ballpark. Globe Life Park in Arlington is a 20-minute drive from downtown Dallas and visiting the park on a perfect Texas summer evening is an event in and of itself. Don’t let a recent string of Rangers playoff births between 2010 and 2012 spoil your trip to the park. We know that you, as a discerning sports consumer, love one thing nearly as much as you love the action in front of you, and that thing is stadium food.
According to Bleacher Report, no stadium does ballpark food better than Globe Life Park. But don’t settle for a simple hot dog and a beer. Go big, with the 60cm, 450g Boomstick hot dog topped with chilli, nacho cheese and jalapeños on a potato bun. Still hungry? Tuck into the Sausage Sundae – grilled sausage instead of bananas, mashed potatoes in substitute of ice cream and sumptuous Texas brisket instead of chocolate sauce. Oh, and mac and cheese too.
Just make sure you have your ride back to your hotel booked as this food coma will probably stay with you for a while.
For Football Fans
Football is basically a religion in Texas (“clear eyes, full hearts” and all that). First things first – get yourself to the AT&T Stadium, a mammoth stadium that hosts “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys.
OK, so the Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl in 20 years, but few teams in the NFL garner as much attention as they do. Score some tickets from Stubhub and get to the stadium early. You’ll want to do as the locals do and spend a little time tailgating – an activity that’s as much of a tradition in football as the games themselves. Fans arrive up to five hours before games to barbecue and knock back a few bevvies before kick-off. This is no place to be shy – spend some quality time wandering around and socialising.
Or, if you want to see the future NFL greats (and want the authentic Friday Night Lights experience), head over to Cedar Hill High School. The 2013 and 2014 State Champions showcase one of the best high school football programs in the country. Tickets only cost USD$7 and you’ll get much, much closer to the action.
You won’t find a bigger high school sports spectacle than here, y’all.
If you’re tired of the crowds and want to spend the day with a drink in your hand, a steak in front of you and every sport imaginable on a big-screen TV (and really, who wouldn’t?), Dallas has some of the best sports bars in the world for wiling away the hours.
Christie’s has more TVs than you every thought possible and features delicious Tex-Mex cuisine. Here, you can check out a number of other Dallas sports highlights, including University of Texas football on Saturday and Major League Soccer’s Dallas FC throughout the week.
(Lead image: Danny Bollinger / Flickr)[qantas_widget code DFW]Check out Qantas flights to Dallas.[/qantas_widget]
Joshua Kloke is a freelance travel, music and sports writer. His work has appeared in Vice and the Vancouver Sun and his debut book Escape is at Hand for the Travellin' Man was released on Eternal Cavalier Press. He likes hanging out in the world's best record shops and pizzerias and is just waiting for someone to combine the two.