Everything is bigger in Texas, but in the last 45 years — at least — no state has ever had a bigger year than the Lone Star State.
Once Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the host Dallas Mavericks and the visiting Miami Heat officially tips off Sunday, June 5, Texas will become the first state in the Super Bowl era (dating back to 1966-67) to host four major sporting championship events within a 12-month span. The Texas Rangers, who play in suburban Arlington, reached their first World Series last year while Cowboys Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLV in February and Houston’s Reliant Stadium was the site of the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in April.
“We kid about it in the industry that things can happen in threes,” Randy Cohen, owner of Texas-based TicketCity, told TicketNews. “So we had the Super Bowl [already scheduled]. Then we had the Rangers in the World Series. We were kidding — what’s next? The [NHL’s] Stars? Is it going to be the Mavericks or the Spurs? It worked out for us.”
Making the year even more unique for Texas is the proximity of the championships as well as the unexpected appearance of the Rangers and Mavericks in the title series. The Rangers hadn’t even won a playoff series in their first 49 years of existence before last year and had eight losing seasons in the 10 years between 2000 and 2009 while the Mavericks weren’t even the most likely team in Texas to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. That honor, such as it was, went to the San Antonio Spurs, who were the top-seeded team in the West but were knocked out in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
“The wackiness of sports,” Cohen said.
And the biggest year for Texas could have been even bigger. Of all the local teams, the one that seemed to have the best chance at reaching the championship, the Dallas Cowboys, fell apart and was out of the playoff race within the first month of the season. The Cowboys becoming the first NFL team to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium was the dream scenario for Texas ticket brokers.
“We’ve had a very good year — a great year,” Cohen said. “But in Texas, football is still king.”
In addition, as popular as the Final Four is, this year’s edition was a tough sell for ticket brokers even though Connecticut, which has a rabid fan base, won the whole thing. Kentucky, which Connecticut beat in the semifinals, was the only school located within 1,000 miles of Houston while Butler and Virginia Commonwealth, who battled in the other semifinal, were two Cinderella schools without much big-time basketball tradition.
“That wasn’t as big,” Cohen said. “It was a good event, it wasn’t a great event. There was plenty of [ticket] availability.”
This year marks only the third time in the Super Bowl era that one state has hosted three major professional sporting championships within a 12-month span and the first time in more than 25 years. In 1966-67, the Los Angeles Dodgers reached the World Series, Los Angeles hosted Super Bowl I and the San Francisco Warriors made the NBA Finals. And in 1984-85, the San Diego Padres made the World Series, Stanford Stadium hosted Super Bowl XIX and the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship.
However, those events were far more scattered around California than this quartet has been in Texas. San Francisco and Los Angeles are separated by almost 400 miles while San Francisco and San Diego are almost 500 miles apart. The home stadiums for the Rangers and Cowboys are down the street from one another in Arlington while Dallas and Houston are only about 240 miles apart.