The Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) will hold its annual convention in San Antonio as planned next month, drawing as many as 10,000 people for the first meeting of its size not postponed or canceled since the pandemic began to hammer San Antonio’s tourism industry.

The Henry B. González Convention Center, which hasn’t hosted a meeting since early March, will be the site of the 88th annual THSCA Coaching School and Convention.

“There is no better opportunity of bringing Texas back together than through our coaches and the ‘miracle of the huddle,’” stated Joe Martin, the association’s executive director, on Wednesday.

In early March, far less than half of an expected 12,000 attendees showed up for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference as the coronavirus pandemic began to emerge in the U.S. Lowered attendance at the writers meeting was the first domino to fall as 36 large, citywide conventions contracted through Visit San Antonio (VSA) canceled this year.

Those cancellations and reduced tourism in general resulted in what the City estimated as a $53.4 million to $83 million loss in revenue this year from the airport, the hotel occupancy tax, and the convention center and Alamodome.

But the coaches’ meeting is one of 37 conventions that remain on the books through the rest of the year. Some of those include meetings of the National Society of Black Engineers, Aug. 19-23; the Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals, Oct. 26-29; and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Dec. 7-12.

If those events proceed as scheduled, the three dozen meetings will result in 181,000 total room nights, 260,000 attendees, and $129 million in projected economic impact.

The ties between the Texas High School Coaches Association and San Antonio go back to 1933 when the organization held its first coaching school here, said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio.

“After these past few difficult months, it’s exciting to open our doors again to welcome the association to a safe, comfortable destination,” she said. “San Antonio is open for business again, and together we’ll play a winning role in Texas’ economic recovery.”

In a statement released Wednesday, THSCA said it has been monitoring local, state, and national protocols for safety during the pandemic and plans to follow health recommendations. THSCA said it is developing “virtual options” to be announced June 15 for those who may not be able to attend and for coaches whose school districts have imposed travel bans.

The convention center also has committed to a set of health and safety measures to protect meeting attendees and staff, which includes working with event planners on social distancing and space allocation.

“Attendees at this year’s school will experience a facility that has taken the extra, extensive steps necessary to ensure the welfare and comfort of our guests and staff,” stated Patricia Muzquiz Cantor, executive director of Convention and Sports Facilities for the City of San Antonio. “Coaches recognize and value great preparation, and that’s what they’re going to enjoy when they return to San Antonio.”

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is a journalist and writer in San Antonio, and a business reporter for The Rivard Report.