Robin Jerstad for the Rivard Report
City officials on Wednesday unveiled $60 million in renovations at the Alamodome, improvements that include expansions of the east and west concourses in preparation for the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four next spring.
The revamp was the most significant capital improvement in the facility's 24-year history. It also includes technological improvements throughout the arena designed to bring the building up to the level of top sports and entertainment venues across the nation.
“We are celebrating the beginning of a new era for the sports, entertainment, and tourism sector of our local economy,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated in a press release. “This dynamic industry contributes over $35 billion in economic impact to our local community, and the Alamodome is a major contributor to that great result. With these expansive upgrades, our Alamodome will continue to provide affordable and varietal entertainment to our community."
The concourse expansions will allow more room for additional food and beverage choices, including beer gardens that have been added on both the east and west sides of the building. In all, the larger concourse and concessions areas cover 26,000 sq. ft. Also part of the renovations is a 24,000 sq.-ft. field-level multipurpose room designed for postgame interviews and press conferences, as well as locker room upgrades.
“These enhancements are vital to maintaining and growing San Antonio’s ability to host major marquee sporting events such as the Valero Alamo Bowl, UTSA Football, and of course the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship next year,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley stated.
The new technology includes installation of two high-definition video walls that are 60 feet wide and 34 feet tall, contiguous ribbon display boards surrounding the interior of the arena, and multiple high-definition cameras. The sound system has been upgraded with 55 additional amplifiers to provide enhanced audio throughout the building.
"That's the evolution of what's happening with these facilities," said Richard Oliver, director of partner and community relations at Visit San Antonio. "You've got to upgrade, provide those kinds of experiences not only for locals but for people and businesses coming in. It's great for companies looking to bring their people here and want to provide that great quality of life experience."
A new H-E-B Plaza will offer outdoor concessions, merchandising areas, and a staging area for other pre-event activities. The plaza also honors past inductees into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.
While most of the renovations have been completed, two more video walls will be added this fall. Other improvements are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, including improved and expanded Wi-Fi coverage for 65,000 users and a new distributive antenna system that will offer better connectivity throughout the facility. Those upgrades are expected to be done in time for the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28.
The City had timed the unveiling of the facility's improvements to come just before the University of Texas at San Antonio's 2017 football home opener at the Alamodome against the University of Houston on Saturday. But the floods that have swamped Houston and caused more than two dozen deaths prompted officials to postpone the game. No date has been set for the UTSA-UH game, but UTSA will face Southern University at the Alamodome on Saturday, Sept. 16.
The first event to take place at the revamped Alamodome will be the Guns N' Roses concert on Friday, Sept. 8.
"San Antonio has shown the NCAA, this is a city that wants to work," Oliver said. "If the competition gets tougher the NCAA has already seen that San Antonio will rise to the occasion to make it happen."