Time and time again, during the offseason and regular season alike, certain members of the UTSA fanbase bash the Alamodome as their team's home venue. These folks don't seem to realize that the stadium is a top-notch facility, and that the Roadrunner Faithful are extremely fortunate to call it home. For crying out-loud, its name is the Alamodome!
The argument is that UTSA needs an on-campus facility to play their games in. That would mean spending some 80 million university dollars on a stadium that has roughly 30,000-less seats. Those estimates are based on North Texas Mean Green's Apogee Stadium, the only collegiate football field in Texas built during this millennium. UTSA's main campus needs to focus new construction efforts on much more than a football stadium, but that's a different discussion altogether.
Instead of concentrating all of my focus into that argument, let's talk about why the Alamodome rules.
First off, UTSA pays virtually nothing for the Alamodome - a max of $250,000 a year in staffing expenses, and the stadium gets to keep the concession profits. A new stadium would cost the school at least 320 football seasons in the 'Dome, but I digress. In turn, UTSA Football brings the city of San Antonio over $850,000 a year, which brings me to my next point:
UTSA plays in the downtown of America's seventh-largest city. That's something to be proud of. Have you any idea why UTSA chose to host their football games downtown? Because the Roadrunners aren't just UTSA's football team, they're San Antonio's football team. In a central Texas community that worships this sport, the Roadrunners are a godsend. Prior to 2011 the hottest football ticket in the city was The Gucci Bowl. UTSA is not only the first legitimate football team in the Alamodome, they're the first legitimate football team in the city! (No, the Gunslingers don't count.)
It took the stadium nearly two decades to get real football, and the city has been waiting for half a century.
UTSA has campaigned for a long time to be the premier university of San Antonio, and school officials want the Alamo City's identity to include UTSA. The Roadrunners play in the heart of the city because they want to be the heart of the city (at least whenever the Spurs aren't playing). Not to mention, downtown San Antonio is the number one tourism venue in Texas, creating unfathomable exposure the team could never get elsewhere in the city.
And how cool is it that students get to walk the stage on top of their 50-yard line? UTSA commencements have taken place in the 'Dome since 2013. An awesome tradition in the making, no doubt about it.
Secondly, there's never enough over-stressing the fact that the Roadrunners play INDOORS. Only eleven of the FBS' 128 football programs have the luxury of playing indoors. A cool 74 degrees and 0% chance of rain make it the best conditions for players and fans alike. For those that complain, y'all are aware that this is Texas, right? I can't tell you how many tailgaters walk in to the Alamodome like they were on the verge of suffering from heatstroke. And in October and November tailgaters call it quits half an hour early just to get out of the blistering, 50-degree cold and into the sanctuary of the 'Dome.
Only two other football teams in Texas play an indoor stadium - the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans. Understand that.
Also, the indoor venue produces this thing called reverberation. When noise is made, it bounces off the ceiling and then bounces back off the walls, amplifying the sound to a deafening volume that can be close to numbing if you're standing on the field. I can speak from a personal anecdote on this: the first thing to ever come out of UTSA Football's tunnels was the Spirit of San Antonio, the school's marching band. I was on the drumline when there were 56,000 screaming fans in the bleachers for the inaugural game, and standing on the field the noise was so loud that it was actually dead silent. Like a white noise; your eardrums ringing without actually being able to hear a thing - not the person screaming next to you, not even the marching band.
The Alamodome can be one of the loudest stadiums in college football when it has a packed crowd, and the Roadrunners should have the fiercest home-field advantage in Conference USA by a few decibels.
On to alcohol, because you can't brag about the Alamodome without mentioning alcohol. There has never been any problem with purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages at UTSA football games, and that's because the NCAA has no jurisdiction over the Alamodome. It's a city-owned facility. Missed the tailgate? No problem, you just have to play a little catch-up. It's a pretty good fiesta when the crowd is right, and it comes six times a year. Only 34 programs get to enjoy alcohol inside their stadiums - about a quarter of the entire FBS. Now if only they would sell it at graduation...
Oh, and the school provides designated drivers to the football games for all students and fans. That's practically unheard of, and those shuttles can be a party in their own regard, trust me.
Now, I'll admit, the Alamodome has not yet embraced UTSA Football to the extent that it should and needs to. UTSA decals should be plastered all over the stadium, inside and out, and there should be an actual team shop built inside the stadium rather than a few measly merchandise booths. The student section should have "The Bird Cage" written all over it, and they should heavily advertise each game all throughout downtown.
In an excellent column with the San Antonio Business Journal, UTSA donor and San Antonio businessman David Spencer proposed a few excellent recommendations.
"One immediate step is to close off and drape the upper deck of the Alamodome," Spencer said. "Empty seats look bad, and creating some scarcity of supply for tickets is a good thing."
Spencer would like to see other changes to the Alamodome that would make the venue look and feel more like the Roadrunners' home stadium and less like a leased facility.
"Let's bathe the dome in orange and blue - inside and out. Not just on game nights, but every night. Let's spend money to upgrade the tailgating experience. Let's put a pedestrian promenade over the railroad tracks, so you don't have to go down in a hole to move from your tailgate to the dome."
Spencer also said more could be done to attract a greater number of fans from visiting teams, filling more hotel rooms and generating more tourism dollars for the city.
"We can choose to be content and do nothing new, or we can lean in and make the UTSA football program a huge win for our entire city. I'd like to see the latter."
- San Antonio Business Journal
Love your stadium Roadrunner fans, you're extremely fortunate to call it home. And if you're one of those that doesn't, learn to. It's going to be UTSA's football home until at least 2035. Also, $41 million in upcoming renovations will make it even more of a treasure.
'Dome Sweet Home.