Story and Photos by Dorothy J. Gentry
Professional basketball returned to the American Airlines on December 17th.
But no one was there to see.
The Mavs lost its final preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-129 in a mostly empty AAC as the team decided earlier this month—stating the safety of its fans, players and employees as its top priority—to start the 2020-21 preseason without fans.
That meant only the players of both teams, a handful of media and a few coaching and training staff and AAC personnel watched the Mavs play their only home preseason game. The Mavs’ first two preseason games were on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to welcome fans back to AAC this season but want to make sure we do so in the safest way possible,” said Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall. “Unfortunately, having looked closely at the current data, trends and historical spikes, we cannot risk our fans’ safety, which is in the best interest of our community.”
Mavs officials say they made the decision only after careful consideration and in collaboration with the NBA, American Airlines Center, and Dallas County public health officials. They have not set a definitive timetable for fans returning to the arena for the regular season, which begins on December 23rd, stating they will continue to work with Dallas County leadership and public health officials to determine the best possible scenario before the season begins.
The Mavs will tip off the 2020-21 regular season on the road against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 9:30 pm CST on ESPN and FSSW. Following their opener against the Suns, the Mavericks will travel to Los Angeles for a Christmas matchup with the defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers at 7 pm CST on ABC.