April 28, 2005
The Alamodome

Cicero and The Jeffersonian talk about the Alamodome, quite likely the least utilized stadium in all of Texas. I believe they are both correct in saying that San Antonio will never get an NFL team, but I don't believe it has anything to do with media market size. Since the NFL's TV deal has always been a national deal, one in which each team shares equally, the physical location of the franchises doesn't matter that much. If the NFL really cared about that, they never would have let the Rams leave LA for St. Louis or the Oilers depart Houston for Memphis. I agree with The Jeffersonian - the single biggest obstacle to an NFL team in the Alamo City is the Dallas Cowboys (or as I like to think of them now, the Dallas Cowboys of Arlington), with the Texans next in line.

I also think the biggest reason why San Antonio is such a relatively small media market is because there's no big suburbs around it. Here's the census map for Texas. The biggest county neighboring Bexar is Guadalupe, with 97,000 people, followed by Comal with 88,000. There are four counties adjacent to Harris that are each bigger than those two combined - Fort Bend, Montgomery, Galveston, and Brazoria. Together those four counties have well over a million people in them. The combined population of Collin and Denton counties up near Dallas is also over a million. Bexar has nothing like that. San Antonio is a big city, but that's all there is.

I'm racking my brain trying to recall what was the justification for building the Alamodome (I believe it was the San Antonio Current that gave it the Dillo Dome nickname that Cicero refers to), but I'm coming up blank. I don't recall there being any serious speculation about getting an NFL expansion team - heck, at the time I don't think there was any speculation about any further NFL expansion, period. Didn't the Spurs play there briefly in between the old HemisFair Arena and the new SBC Center? There may have been some pie-in-the-sky dreaming about the place being the dual home of the Spurs and a longed-for NFL team, I don't remember. I can't see the city tearing it down now, though, whatever it may cost to maintain, as that would be a huge and embarrassing admission of defeat. Like it or not, it's yours to keep.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 28, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack

Interestingly, it appears that while the Alamodome was built for football, it will be getting soccer as a main tenant in 2006. Major League Soccer has approved a franchise for San Antonio for next year.

Come to think of it, soccer is called football in the rest of the world. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on April 28, 2005 2:50 PM

Yes, the Spurs did play there for a time. I remember seeing a Spurs/Rockets playoff game in the mid-90s (Rockets won that game, but I think the Spurs won the series?).

I remember there was a big to-do about why it wasn't big enough to play baseball in, thereby nixing it as a lure for an MLB team.

IIRC, it was pitched as a home for the Spurs, as an inducement for an NFL team, and as a good multi-use venue (Tony Hawk Boom-Boom Huckjam, anyone?). I was frankly suprised when the Spurs got the SBC center, but I was way outta state by then.

Personal note: I sang the National Anthem there (with the rest of SAVAE) when San Antonio hosted the Olympic Festival in the early 90s. It was the basketball venue. And perhaps the largest crowd I've ever performed before. Which isn't saying much.

Posted by: CrispyShot on April 28, 2005 3:24 PM

I lived in SA during the runup to the election for the stadium and it was pushed, heavily by Red McCombs and others at the time, as a "build it and they will come" facility for an NFL franchise. What killed the arrival of any NFL team was the size of the SA TV market, 44th overall. If you take a look at TV markets around the country you'll see a direct correlation between the number of NFL franchises and the markets. The real nail in the coffin was NFL studies that showed that SA residents simply didn't have the disposable income necessary to even fill up the stadium on game day. The average family income level hovered just above the poverty line there in the late 1980's. Anyway, too bad for SA that they built a white elephant but that just shows the lure of fame and fortune that cities gamble on trying to attract the NFL.

Posted by: Paul on April 29, 2005 7:33 AM

I'm not a resident, not even of the state, but I'm pretty sure it was the Spurs as well.
The San Antonio Gunslingers (of the USFL) played at Alamo Stadium as did the San Antonio RoughRiders (1991-2) of the World League of American Football.

Oddly enough, Alamo Stadium seems to have lost seats between the two, the Gunslingers' quoted seating was 32,000 while the RoughRiders said it was 25,000.

Posted by: Jeff G on April 29, 2005 7:35 AM

There was probably more to it, but I remember it being largely for the Spurs. Mainly because I remember how they got the SBC Center mostly because they didn't like the Alamodome. I wasn't much of a Spurs fan, but that little bit of childish pettiness - at the expense of San Antonio taxpayers - cemented my dislike for the home team. Even then, they had to sell the SBC Center as being for the Rodeo, too.

On a larger note, I will never cease to be amazed at people's willingness to take it bending over for a sports team. I grew up in Phoenix, my dad still lives there... The Cardinals have been there for many years now, and never had a season over .500. Yet they just approved a new way-too-expensive stadium for them out in Glendale, because playing in Sun Devil Stadium just isn't good enough for a bad team.

On the more local level, Red McComb's selling the Vikings because "WAAAH! They won't give me a new stadium to play in and I can't work with these people!" is rather revolting, too.

Posted by: Buhallin on April 29, 2005 9:09 AM

when the spurs played there, they pulled a big blue curtain across one side of the arena to hide the empty upper deck.

the seating capacity was just too large for the nba. it was kinda weird looking.

Posted by: banjo jones on April 29, 2005 11:22 AM

Ah yes, the old "San Antonio Gunslingers."

I'll have "Politically incorrect team nicknames NOT named after American Indians" for $400, Alex.

Posted by: Tim on April 29, 2005 1:24 PM

JeffG - Alamo Stadium is not the Alamodome. It's a relatively small stadium mostly used for high school football. It's also right across the street from my alma mater, Trinity University.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 29, 2005 1:59 PM


That was kind of my point. Both of them played at Alamo Stadium, not the dome, hence why I concluded it was for the Spurs too. The rest was just useless trivia. :)

Posted by: Jeff G on May 2, 2005 7:21 AM

What part of INDOOR football(soccer) do these people not understand???????? If they want a football(soccer)club in the Alamodome, then that is what the Major INDOOR Soccer League is for. The beautiful game is meant to be played outdoors. Indoor football is meant to be played indoors. It's as simple as that. And I don't care WHAT type of surface they have in the Alamodome. It's STILL a plastic pitch. You might as well play the game on hockey ice or a basketball floor.

Posted by: Johnny Flushing on December 15, 2005 7:15 PM