By the start of next season, the streets around the American Airlines Center in Dallas’ Victory Park neighborhood could look a little different. It’s not because of pending roadwork, although there’s plenty of that to go around. The city is planning to rename one of the streets after Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.
About a month ago, Dallas City Councilmember and MFFL Adam Medrano, who represents District 2 (which encompasses Victory Park), submitted a proposal to rename a three-block stretch of what is now Olive Street between Field Street and Victory Avenue to Nowitzki Way. Medrano chose this section of road because it runs right in front of Victory Plaza, the gateway to the AAC.
The idea for the street name change came to Medrano when he was attending a conference in Phoenix in 2018. While traveling through downtown near Talking Stick Resort Arena, where both the Suns and Mercury play, one of the street names caught his attention. The street was named after Diana Taurasi, his favorite women’s basketball player.
“I saw that they had a Diana Taurasi Way,” Medrano tells Mavs Moneyball. “So, I’m like, ‘Oh, that would be cool if we had that.’ Everybody’s been hearing about a statue once [Dirk] retires. I think that people always talked about that—kind of like they have around Staples with all the players. I thought that [renaming a street after Nowitzki] would be cool.”
Upon returning to Dallas, Medrano met with Dave Brown, the chief operating officer at the AAC, and mentioned his idea. Brown liked it. The only problem was that neither knew when Nowitzki was planning to retire. They chose to wait and approach Nowitzki and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with the idea once the retirement official. The two signed off on the idea.
Medrano wasn’t the only one thinking of ways to honor Nowitzki with a street name change this summer, though. During Dallas’ recent mayoral election, candidate Miguel Solis, who is a member of the Dallas Independent School District’s board of trustees, floated the idea of changing the name of Houston Street, which runs alongside the AAC after Nowitzki in a podcast with D Magazine.
That idea picked up traction in some circles, with The Athletic’s Tim Cato (formerly of MMB) picking up the story and running with it. What Solis and everyone didn’t know at the time was that the wheels were already in motion thanks to Medrano.
“When Miguel brought it up, I didn’t want to say anything,” Medrano says. “I didn’t want to be like a hater saying, ‘I’m already doing that.’”
This isn’t the first time that the city has honored Nowitzki. Last November, Mayor Mike Rawlings presented Dirk with a Key to the City of Dallas, only the third time the mayor awarded the key to a citizen of Dallas during his eight-years in office. Then, in April of this year, the county decided to honor Nowitzki. At the behest of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county commissioners officially recognized April as the “Month of Dirk” in Dallas County.
Nowitzki Way isn’t a done deal yet, though. The proposal has to go through a committee in the City Planning Commission. Then it will go before the whole commission for a vote. After that, it moves to the City Council, who will have the final say on approval. The whole process takes about four months.
“I had to get it in really quick,” Medrano says. “I was trying to get it in so we have all of May, all of June—we’re off July, but I think CPC still meets one time—and then August, September. It gives us enough time to be ready in case they want to do something next season, or whenever they want to unveil it or whatever, and work with the Mavericks to do that.”
As mentioned, the full City Council must vote to sign off on the name change. Politics in Dallas are always divisive. However, it’s probably safe to assume that the Nowitzki Way rename will pass the council unanimously. Nobody votes against Dirk in this town.