In September of last year, the San Antonio Spurs General Manager and City Manager met to discuss improvements to the city-owned Alamodome, where the Spurs play home games. We know this because the San Antonio Express-News has text messages showing the GM asking to meet the city official to discuss “facility infrastructure“. Maybe the Spurs offered to pay for the upgrades themselves? Given their history, the odds of that are likely never. This is the same ownership that was given an extra $41 million dollars worth of federal subsidies when building the area….and they just kept it for themselves. This continues the long history of the team milking the city time and time again for money.
Then about a month ago, we started hearing reports of the Spurs possibly wanting a new arena. This week, a new story came out by the San Antonio Express-News discussing how the team and city of San Antonio had been secretly negotiating about a possible new arena for many months, if not a year. Essentially the city has been trying a “secret effort to woo Spurs to a new downtown arena” for many months now.
Thanks to the Texas Public Information Act, the Express-News got a number of emails showing city leaders discussing with Spurs executives about the possibility of a downtown arena. The emails involved the mayor, Spurs GM, Spurs attorneys and other financial officers for both sides. While the majority of the messages simply discussed times and dates of meetings, the fact that major team officials and city leaders met multiple times shows that talks are advanced.
However, we didn’t find out the most important question….how in the hell is the city going to pay for it? The Express-News points out the likely scenario…
“If plans for a downtown arena move ahead, they probably would hinge on public financing, either through a sale of bonds or a tax increase, either one of which would have to be approved by voters” – San Antonio Express-News, 08/19/23
City residents must be clamoring for the new arena. I bet people are banging on the mayors door while chanting “Build That Arena!”.
“You can already feel a resistance to the notion of San Antonians paying for it. It’s the kind of resistance that unites political opposites. Progressives resent the idea of taxpayer resources being used to benefit developers rather than address the many needs of working-class San Antonians. Conservatives see it as just another tax-and-spend indulgence by big government” – San Antonio Express-News, 07/22/23
“A lot of promises were made way back when these stadiums were being funded by tax dollars here locally that we would have that economic development, that we would have those new homes, and restaurants, businesses and it just hasn’t happened yet…we’ve seen some, but but definitely not to the magnitude — I’d say 20 to 25 percent of what it could be” – KSAT, 09/09/16, District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick
“We are at an interesting juncture. We have an arena that the county invested significant money in, and has continued to invest in, but it has not had the development impact that one might hope for” – Axios, 06/27/23, Heywood Sanders, UTSA professor of public administration
“Once constructed, new sports facilities generate little in the way of good jobs or economic development in the surrounding area. The Alamodome and AT&T Arena have both failed to generate neighborhood development” – 04/11/16, San Antonio Report
It isn’t all bad. It isn’t like the Spurs charge the city $250,000+ to use their taxpayer-funded arena for a polling place. Wait a second.