Not Ready For Primetime
More big event disaster in Dallas: Freak highway shutdown at NBA Finals bringsback Super troubles
DALLAS — The NBA Finals seemingly could not have been going better for Dallas in the hosting department. The city wasn't shut down by an ice storm, no one sold temporary seats in the American Airlines Center that were unfinished or unsafe. Events were largely centralized rather than spread out across some nebulous "North Texas" region.
In other words, there were no Super Bowl-sized problems.
Until Wednesday night. Until the eve of the last Finals game in Dallas. Until the power lines dropped on the highway ... and another near shutdown commenced.
"Maybe we really are cursed," Dallasite Eric Stark said. "It's crazy. What's next? Locusts?
"There is never a problem when there isn't a big event here I swear."
And when there is, you never know what's going to throw the region into chaos next. The latest came when a construction truck accidentally knocked over some power lines and sent them toppling across one of the busiest highways in Texas. Suddenly, I-35E was completely shutdown in both directions, leaving thousands of motorists stranded on the highway for hours.
Many of those happened to be trying to get into Dallas for one of the biggest nights of partying during the Finals' middle-three-games stop in Texas. The power line highway shutdown happened near the tail end of rush hour Wednesday and traffic did not start moving again until almost midnight.
Now, those already in downtown or staying in downtown, weren't affected all that much. But as anyone who's been to Dallas .. er North Texas ... knows, it's quite the spread-out region. Everyone here for the Finals does not end up staying downtown. Including a number of high-powered advertisers who prefer the more retreat-like setting of hotels in Grapevine, Las Colinas or Fort Worth.
Some who eventually made it into downtown — after the events they planned to attend were all but over — told of spending several hours on the highway without moving at all as police officers warned them to remain in their stuck cars because of the danger the live power lines presented.
It's enough to bring back visions of Super Bowl XLV, which began with Jerry Jones proclamations about it being the greatest ever and ended with columnists from across America branding it the worst Super Bowl week in the modern era. In contrast, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban could not have been quieter this week (he's keeping the pre-playoff promise he made to Dirk Nowitzki to shut up and stop distracting the team).
Still, even without the freak ice storm, the worry about being unable to find salt trucks to make the city passable again even days later, the injured stadium workers, the seat debacle or the big ego, Dallas still managed to find trouble in its NBA Finals moment.
Construction workers that need a remedial driving course and knocked-over power lines ... welcome to the Big D all right. The Big Disaster.
Ticket brokers and club operators were already a little bummed that Dallas' three NBA Finals games all fell during the middle of the week, providing little Friday or Saturday mega event action.
"A Sunday night game is hard for someone coming in from out of town to justify," said Pat Ryan of The Ticket Experience, a Houston-based ticket broker who sells Finals ducats. "It's just a tough night. Tuesday night is a difficult too. Thursday night is a little easier. It's close enough to the weekend where I could see some of our clients deciding to make a quick trip up for the game.
"Thursday night will probably bring the highest ticket cost of the series."
By Wednesday, some of that money was already rolling into town. When the power line highway shutdown hit.
"It really is sort of pathetic," Stark said. "I don't know what to tell you. We've hit a bad patch of luck."