Yes, it seems a little odd to be talking about a new arena for the San Antonio Spurs: AT&T Center is only 21 years old, but the arena has not generated any development near its East Side location near Freeman Coliseum and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. Before the decision to go with the AT&T Center, the Spurs had lobbied for a new downtown arena near what was the team’s current home, the Alamodome.
Now, in a fitting irony, the Spurs may end up in downtown San Antonio at the Alamodome site–without or without the Alamodome. Using the Alamodome area as the base of a new stadium district that would include the Hemisfair park isn’t a new idea for incorporating a stadium development–let’s just say this is not the first time the location has been floated for a new Missions ballpark–but with Nelson Wolff Stadium on its last legs, some sort of bold move will be needed to retain the team to meet MiLB’s 2025 facility deadline. Or, potentially, bring back Triple-A baseball to the city.
As a bonus, some sort of stadium district is seen as a way to revitalize downtown San Antonio, per the San Antonio Express-News:
There are some encouraging signs downtown that could beckon the Spurs and Missions. Tourists are returning, packing into hotels and River Walk barges, and the University of Texas at San Antonio is expanding its downtown campus.
Developers–some with an eye toward those students and faculty members–are making big bets on demand for living in the central business district. Weston Urban is building a 32-story high-rise with 354 apartments at 300 Main Ave. and plans to build another 250 or so units on a block bounded by Commerce, Laredo, Calder and Dolorosa streets, where it would also renovate the former Continental Hotel and Arana buildings.
The firm–co-founded by Graham Weston and Randy Smith, who are part of the group that recently bought the Missions–also plans to turn offices at the Municipal Plaza building into housing. A geometric building with 63 luxury apartments, dubbed the Floodgate, is rising at 132 E. Commerce St., and the iconic Tower Life Building is slated to be converted from offices to residences. Hundreds of apartments are to be built at Hemisfair as part of a mixed-use development around the 9-acre Civic Park.
But no doubt about it: Wolff Stadium is on its last legs, economically speaking. Spending the millions to bring the ballpark up to current MiLB specs by 2025 is just throwing good money after bad, after it’s clear the ballpark will never drive economic development on the west side of San Antonio. Yes, there are plenty of moving parts in establishing a stadium district at the Alamodome, and plenty of hard decisions to make–does the Alamodome go away? What happens to AT&T Center? How big should the ballpark be, with the potential of Triple-A?–and as we reach the second half of 2023, the clock is ticking on the Missions.
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