Tuesday, July 16, 2013

San Antonio market has Alamodome, rich football history

Note: This is the first in a series of stories about potential A11 Football League markets from the seven states the league has identified as going to have teams in the league’s first season in the spring of 2015.

San Antonio, Texas, has a rich football history at all levels, and has both the market size and the facilities any professional football league would be proud of.

Of course, the preeminent sports venue in San Antonio is the Alamodome, which opened in 1993. Owned and operated by the City of San Antonio, the Alamodome has a football capacity of 65,000, 52 luxury suites – and a very extensive high-quality football history.

The current football tenants of the Alamodome are the relatively-new Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, the Arena Football League’s San Antonio Talons and the annual Valero Alamo Bowl. Texas-San Antonio has had a football program since 2011, and has had average home attendance figures of 35,521 in its first season and 29,226 in its second.

The Talons are in their third season in San Antonio after having spent 12 seasons in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in both arenafootball2 and the AFL. In their first seven home games of 2013, the Talons averaged 7,393 fans.

The Alamo Bowl is a fixture during each college football bowl season. The all-time Alamo Bowl attendance record is 66,166 in 2007, and the game has seen an attendance of 60,000 or more on 12 occasions.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints ended up playing three “home games” at the Alamodome in 2005, and did so to huge crowds of 58,688, 65,562 and 63,747.

San Antonio also was the home of one of the more infamous teams in the outdoor alternative professional football genre – the United States Football League’s Gunslingers. The ’Slingers weren’t very good (12-24) in two years of play (1984-85), and they fell short in paying many in the organization in full or on time.

The city also has had outdoor alternative pro football teams in the World Football League (San Antonio Wings, 1975), the World League of American Football (San Antonio Riders, 1991-92) and Canadian Football League (San Antonio Texans, 1995). The United Football League also flirted with the city for a time, but ultimately never had a team there.

As of last fall, San Antonio is the 36th-highest television market, according to Nielsen.

BOTTOM LINE - San Antonio hasn’t had an outdoor alternative pro football team in 18 years, but it deserves one. One problem, however, is the city does have the National Basketball Association’s Spurs, the American Hockey League’s Rampage, the Class-AA San Antonio Missions and the Talons all playing during a potential spring football season, so the sports leisure dollars already are stretched pretty thin at that time of year.

However, given the right conditions, a San Antonio-based outdoor alternative pro football team could do very well both on and off the field.

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