UTSA’s athletics program received a major boost this weekend after San Antonio voters overwhelmingly supported a massive bond proposal that will deliver a $10 million windfall to the University. Totaling $850 million, the total bond package includes funding for street repairs, flood control infrastructure, affordable housing, libraries, and neighborhood and park improvements.
While the $850 million package is the largest bond proposal to ever pass in the city, it will not require an increase to the city’s property tax rate.
The $10 million funding influx is earmarked towards continuing the development of UTSA’s Park West athletics facility. Currently hosting soccer and track programs, the complex opened in 2013. Located less than two miles from campus, the facility is planned to eventually host all of UTSA’s athletics programs in an all-inclusive athletics park that could match up to the facilities offered by Power Five programs.
UTSA’s plan for the construction of the complex will be shifting slightly following the passing of the bond. The completed initial phase of the facility included the track and soccer stadiums, a throwing area for shot put and discuss, temporary locker rooms, surface parking, and necessary infrastructure such as drainage areas and water filtration systems.
UTSA’s master plan document for Phase Two of the complex calls for the construction of two football practice fields, one on a turf surface and another on a grass surface. The master plan also details plans for a temporary locker room and offices for the football program.
It will be interesting to watch the construction play out as the second phase of the master plan listed on UTSA’s website does not align with the planned additions that were marketed to voters for the bond proposal.
While UTSA’s original plans called for strong investment in football facilities in Phase Two, the $10 million from the city of San Antonio bond package is set to fund the development of a flexible team facility that will facilitate hosting large soccer and track events at the Park West complex. The team facility to be funded by the bond was originally set to be funded in Phase Three of the Park West project.
Since UTSA has already been hosting the UTSA Invitational and Roadrunners Invitational, outdoor track meets hosting a handful of programs each, the program should be able to host some of the larger track meets and soccer tournaments in the region thanks to the resources San Antonio provides. With cooperative weather, a wealth of hotels near the Park West facility, and easy transportation, UTSA will be an attractive host for major events once Park West’s next development is complete.
The aforementioned team facility will include changing facilities and restrooms large enough to accommodate a sizable number of participants as well as a medical facility to support the competing student athletes. If all goes according to plan then UTSA should be able to generate additional revenue by hosting large athletics events at Park West often.
Bolstering Park West is a huge step forward for UTSA however the big question remains— where does this leave future facility improvements for the football program?
While the toll gated “phases” of the Park West project may be a bit off kilter from the original plan, I view the construction of the new team facility as the true completion of the original Phase One. If we define the phases as subjective goals instead of explicit buildings and facilities then Phase One was the process to have the soccer and track teams fully supported and installed at Park West. With the new team facility in place the track and soccer teams are now fully entrenched at Park West and the University’s energy and focus should turn to Phase Two — subjectively defined as moving the football team’s day-to-day activity to Park West.
With the initial phase of Park West complete UTSA should begin a capital campaign to generate the funds necessary to compete with the program’s peers in football facilities. It’s unclear whether the team facility funded in the bond proposal includes locker rooms, weight rooms, training areas, and meeting space for football but that is an absolute necessary for the program. The two practice fields originally outlined in Phase Two of Park West will need to be developed— and if the future capital campaign goes well then UTSA could shoot for the stars and become one of the few Conference USA programs to boast an indoor practice facility.
The Roadrunners have a Goliath task in front of them in order to bring their athletic facilities up to par but the support of the San Antonio community is helping them reach their goals. While the bond proposal passing is a big step in the right direction, it’s going to take even more community support to get the football program facilities where they need to be to deliver championships to the city and university.