Case Study

American Airlines Center Urban Event Venue Excites Sports & Entertainment Fans

Dallas, Texas, USA

The Challenge

To design a multipurpose arena that allows the venue to be reconfigured from NBA basketball and NHL hockey to maximize revenues while providing luxurious amenities for basketball and hockey fans as well as concert goers.

The Design Solution

HKS designers delivered a 20,000-seat arena that can be converted from basketball to hockey within two hours or less, which allows the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars to play home games on the same day. The flexibility of the American Airlines Center (AAC) is also one of the country’s’ top concert venues. The $218 million facility includes three premium levels with 110 private suites, upscale restaurants, lounges and outdoor environments. The AAC was the first arena in the NBA or NHL to install a 1080 high-definition video system.

The interior of the structure competes with music halls or museums with terrazzo floors that incorporate artist panels, natural light through the four main entry lobbies and a five-level seating bowl with unique features at each end that generate revenue.

The Design Impact

Since opening in 2001, the AAC has hosted an NBA Finals; the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament; the NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four; the NHL All-Star Game; a host of A-list entertainers and other sporting and entertainment events. In 2015, Billboard Magazine named the AAC the fifth-busiest arena in the United States and 10th-busiest in the world.

Project Features

  • Private clubs and premium lounges
  • Retractable seating
  • 110 suites
  • 240 food and beverage service points
  • 2,004-car parking garage
  • 10,000 square feet (929 sm) of meeting space


  • 2007 Top 150 America’s Favorite Architecture (AIA)
  • 2003 Design Award of Merit (Society of American Registered Architects)
  • 2002 Engineering Excellence Award (American Council of Engineering Companies)
  • 2002 Facility of Merit (Athletic Business Magazine)
  • 2002 Minority Business Development Agency Outstanding Corporate Award (United States Department of Commerce)
  • 2001 Best New Major Venue Award (Concert Industry Consortium)

HKS created distinct and marketable environments within our venue that translated into sponsorship partnerships that set the standard in the sports and entertainment market.

Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, American Airlines Center