By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Kissy, kissy: With the uninterrupted lovefest celebrating the opening of the American Airlines Center under way in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, regular readers of this paper might expect us to have something nasty to say. Lord knows Buzz tried, but so far the arena seems to be all the glorious things one could hope for from the infusion of several million dollars of public money. OK, so there was this one niggling point: Would someone please tell the DART cops to play nice with the West End shuttle buses?
That would certainly make Bob Allen, owner of the West End Pub, happy. Allen, who sadly has only nice words for the center's management, says that so far the only real snag has come from the transit authority, which is offering free shuttle rides under contract with the arena. A handful of West End restaurants and bars, including Allen's, offer their own free shuttles, but the DART police don't want to share the prime loading spots with non-DART buses.
"They're trying to keep us from the front door," says Allen, who claims transit police have ordered the business' buses to a spot a block away and out of sight. That makes it hard for his customers to find his shuttles, which take them back to the pub, where, he hopes, arena patrons will stop in and spend some dough.
According to Allen, the center's management says the private shuttles are welcome at the main entrance, and DART's managers don't mind sharing the loading space. Apparently, word has not filtered down to the ranks. A DART cop threatened to arrest one of Allen's contract bus drivers if he didn't move away from the loading zone, Allen says.
"I do not like an employee of mine to be threatened with arrest...when he's not doing anything wrong," he says.
DART has contracted to operate shuttles from opening weekend until the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus leaves August 12, and is negotiating with the center to continue the service afterward, says a DART spokesman, who was unfamiliar with Allen's complaint. Businesses in the West End have been offering shuttles to Reunion Arena since at least the early '90s, Allen says.
"When DART goes away and quits doing it, our buses will still be there," he says.
Allen says crowds leaving last weekend's performances have already brought an influx of business to the West End, and he expects the new center to be a boon to the district.
"This is going to be one of the best things for the West End," he says.
How nice. Buzz is happy for him. Really, we are. Of course, if anyone out there has any nice juicy complaints about the center, we'll be happy to print those, too. We want to be fair.
--Compiled by Patrick Williams