While Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning was not played in front of a crowd, fans in Dallas were still eagerly watching.
The American Airlines Center in Dallas hosted a watch party on Saturday for fans to watch the game on the big screen. The series will be played at the National Hockey League COVID-19 bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with no fans allowed.
Dan Smith is from Minnesota but has lived in North Texas for several years.
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“I was a North Stars fan before they came down here so I didn’t skip a beat. So, I’ve been a Stars fan for 50 years,” he said. “In Minnesota, hockey is number one, so the North Stars were a big team up there. When I moved down here, the Stars followed me down in 1993, so just love the green.”
The American Airlines Center was capped at 25% capacity, which is around 5,000 people. Signs were visible throughout the arena reminding people masks and social distancing were required.
Juliano Casulli said he has been a fan of the team since he was a child and did not feel safety guidelines took away from the experience.
“Being able to come to the stadium and watch it here. It’s exciting,” Casulli said.
Also watching from the American Airlines Center on Saturday was Dallas Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts, who said the experience was new for him and the team.
“Walking back into this building, it was starting to feel a little normal again. Albeit, this is a very strange experience to watch the Stanley Cup Final really on TV and not having games here. But as an organization, I’m so happy for our people, our players, our coaches, all of our employees,” Alberts said. “Our guys are enjoying it as much as they can. They know they’re making a sacrifice, but they’re there for the Stanley Cup, and now here we are. We’re four wins away. I know everyone wants to go home and see their families again. What we want is to come home as champions now too.”
According to American Airlines Center officials, just over 4,100 people attended the watch party on Saturday evening.