Count San Antonio among the cities interested in bringing home an NFL team. And according to the city’s mayor, the timeline for a new team might shorter than you think.
San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg participated in an interview with San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT on Thursday focused entirely on the city’s sports scene. The prospect of the NFL coming to town came up early and often, with Nirenberg claiming citizens “will see an NFL team in San Antonio in the next 10 years.”
San Antonio mayor makes bold NFL promise
“I really believe the momentum that San Antonio has experienced over the last few years,” Nirenberg said. “Most recently with the announcement of major jobs coming to Brooks City Base as well as the downtown UTSA campus and the rise of Texas A&M, the community college districts as well, you will see an NFL team in San Antonio in the next 10 years.”
Nirenberg neglected to specify whether San Antonio’s theoretical NFL franchise would be an expansion team or a relocated team. The interviewer did bring up relocation possibilities in the Los Angeles Chargers, who are currently floundering in their new city, and the Oakland Raiders, who could be facing an awkward year in which they might have to leave Oakland before their new stadium in Las Vegas is ready.
Nirenberg didn’t treat either team as an immediate possibility, using them more as an example of how an NFL team could eventually find itself looking for a city like San Antonio. The mayor repeatedly extolled San Antonio’s economic growth as a reason why the city is now a viable possibility for the NFL, as mayors will often do.
Where would a San Antonio NFL team play?
When the conversation turned to where a San Antonio NFL team would play, the conversation revolved around the Alamodome. Currently the home of the UTSA Roadrunners and the Valero Alamo Bowl, the Alamodome was built 25 years ago in 1993 and is now home to several different events for the city.
Nirenberg did concede that just the Alamdome likely wouldn’t be enough to land an NFL team; an entirely new stadium would probably be required down the line.
“San Antonio’s Alamodome is ready for an NFL team, however, we know that as these franchises grow they expect long-term homes to be designed and so forth. That is a conversation we will have in time, but the truth of the matter is if there was a home that an NFL franchise was looking for, the San Antonio Alamodome is one of the most ready facilities in the country.”
Nirenberg pointed out that the Alamodome has hosted the NFL before, with the mayor claiming that “people remember the games we have hosted after Hurricane Katrina when the Saints needed a place to play.”
Given the dire circumstances that forced the Saints to use the Alamodome for three games in 2005, that might not be the best pitch for the NFL.
Would the NFL really move to San Antonio?
Even going beyond the viability of San Antonio shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium or the viability of an NFL team calling the Alamodome home, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Nirenberg’s claims.
Chief among those reasons are the teams already in Texas. The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans already lay claim to the state of Texas and they probably won’t be interested in giving up one of the biggest cities in that territory. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wields plenty of influence in the league and that could be a tough obstacle to cross if he decides to put up a fight.
There’s also a question of how much the NFL really gets if it adds a San Antonio team to its ranks. Be it with expansion or moving a team, the NFL is most interested in expanding its markets, and giving San Antonio a team probably doesn’t do that as much as other possible cities, like London.
The city has flirted with NFL teams before, and it didn’t go so well. It previously tried to woo the Raiders before the team decided on a smaller city in Las Vegas, and it’s hard to see what could change in San Antonio in the next decade to make it more viable for the league.
San Antonio has plenty going for it between its size and success with the Spurs in the NBA, but until the city can conquer the headwinds created by its location and history with professional football, it’s hard to think this is anything other than a mayor using the topic to try to boost his city’s profile.
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