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On the morning of Feb. 9, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts was bustling with ticket holders filing into the H-E-B Performance Hall with their eyes on the main stage.

For patrons of the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, or other regular programming at the Tobin, this is pretty standard procedure. Except that it was 9 a.m. The suits were tailored a little slimmer and the dress shoes were a little shinier than the usual evening crowd. I overheard one group talking about how they had never been to the Tobin.

This was the Luxury Real Estate Summit, presented by BBVA Compass Bank and Luxury Home Magazine. The keynote speaker was Luis D. Ortiz of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing.”

Tomas Martinez III, the first speaker of the day, is an owner and publisher of Luxury Home Magazine, the largest national publisher and network of real estate publications. When he and his business partner were searching for venues for the second annual summit, their search led them to the Tobin.

“We walked into the building and I literally looked at Matthew and said, ‘We gotta have it at the Tobin,’ ” said Martinez from the stage.

The H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts transformed for a private event. Courtesy photo.
The H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts transformed for a private event. Courtesy photo.

He then went on to coach the auditorium full of luxury real estate professionals on how to increase their number of sales of homes that cost more than $1 million. (In case you are curious, there were 107 properties in that price range sold in San Antonio last year, up from 15 in 2004. Still, we’re nowhere near Houston, ranked fifth among luxury home markets. Or even Austin, ranked 20.)

So, if the luxury hounds’ enthusiasm for the space tells us anything, it’s that the Tobin has glam appeal.

As an arts venue, the center has been wildly successful. In Pollstar’s 2014 year-end report it was ranked 61st out of the nation’s top 200 theaters, and 79th in the world. For theaters under 2,000 seats, it was ranked 14th in the world. These rankings are more impressive because they are based on ticket sales for the entire year 2014, and the Tobin didn’t open until September.

In those four final months of 2014, 105,000 patrons visited the Tobin, and 15,000 children attended special programs.

In addition to the 10 resident companies and steady stream of performances from the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Jason Mraz, the Tobin serves as a venue for a diversity of events.

Some, such as the Luxury Real Estate Summit, are ticketed through the TOBi ticketing system. Others are booked as private events, such as alumni gatherings and weddings.

Those unticketed events are under the purview of Michelle Moon, the director of facility sales and service.

“My job is to sell the Tobin when it would otherwise be dark,” Moon said.

The Tobin houses eight rentable venues, each including 12 hours of use, plus set-up and tear-down time. Use of the Tobin’s tables, chairs, and state of the art technology capabilities is included.

The H-E-B Performance Hall, Mays Family Foyer, McCombs Lobby and Valero Entry Plaza make up the most grand space, at 8,200 sq. ft. The stage and orchestra level seating can be transformed into a gala floor holding more than 800 guests. The standard rate for the space is $6,500 ($5,200 for non-profits).

The Frost Studio Theater Lobby and Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater can hold 420 standing guests, or 220 seated banquet style, in the 3,380 sq. ft. classic black box theater. It rents for $4,000 ($3,200 for non-profits).

Even those who have not been inside the Tobin may have enjoyed the River Walk Plaza. Well, you can rent that too. Untented, the 6,300 sq. ft. plaza holds 300 seated guests, or 650 standing. It holds slightly less if the event requires a tent. The plaza rents for $3,000 ($2,400 for non-profits).

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts rotunda, transformed for a private event. Courtesy photo.
The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts rotunda, transformed for a private event. Courtesy photo.

Smaller events can make use of the Leroy Denman Founders’ Lounge or the East and West Rotundas. The lounge is 1,495 sq. ft. and holds 250 standing guests, and rents for $700 ($560 for non-profits). Each 1,700 sq. ft. rotunda rents separately for $500 ($400 for non-profits) if the event is a breakfast, luncheon or pre-show reception. If the event is considered full-length, the price goes up to $800 ($640 for non-profits). Each rotunda can seat 90 or hold 200 standing.

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.