No Game 6 watch party for fans outside the AAC

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on June 11, 2011 at 9:50 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 12 at 8:46 AM

DALLAS — Mavericks fans are angry that Sunday's big Game 6 will not be shown on the big screens outside the American Airlines Center at Victory Park.

Many were hoping to cheer their team with fellow fans on the plaza and watch the NBA Finals game taking place 1,100 miles away in Miami.

"I was looking forward to this," said fan Rebka Getenet, 17. "We had a whole group of people that wanted to come... it felt like they took something away from us."

In an e-mail message to News 8, team spokeswoman Gina Calvert said safety fears were behind the decision.

"The plaza cannot hold the amount of fans that will show up," she wrote. "So for safety issues, it was moved into the arena."

The 18,000 tickets to the watch party inside the arena sold out in under an hour on Friday. Fans lined up outside the arena to snap up the $5 tickets, with proceeds going to the team's charity.

"We were planning on buying tickets to the watch party," said fan Phoebe Nigussie, who was too late for the sale and who is not looking forward to watching the game at home. "It's not the same feeling."

Dallas police Deputy Chief Julian Bernal said the department learned it needed to control the crowds better after last weekend's game. This Sunday, there will be extra officers — including SWAT personnel — around downtown.

"One of the real messages we want to get out to the public is: If you don't have a ticket to the watching parties, there's not going to be a whole lot to see at the AAC outside," he explained.

Previous games have been shown at the plaza, and close to 45,000 people cram Victory Park each New Year's Eve to celebrate Big D NYE.

Since opening nearly 10 years ago, the 75-acre master-planned development has had trouble keeping businesses. Several restaurants and shops have closed there in recent years.

The manager of one of the few restaurants still there still hopes the game will be shown on the screens outside.

Victory Tavern is hosting its own watch party inside, but it doesn't have televisions on its patio, which has a clear view of the big screens.

"It will just attract more business, more fans, more energy," says general manager Jose Perez. "It all comes down to the energy."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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