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Big Final Four Dollars Unlikely To Be Spent In Alamodome Neighborhood

The city of San Antonio expects to reap more than $160M in revenue from the Men’s Final Four next week, but most of the dollars spent will not be anywhere near the Alamodome.

While sports stadiums in Houston have continued to invest in upgrades and improvements, the Alamodome remains mostly untouched. The land around the Alamodome, mostly industrial, has not been redeveloped to capture revenue from stadium-goers.

Alamodome prepared for Final Four

A semi-active Alamodome may not be driving local redevelopment, but activity in other areas of town are likely to spill over into the area around the Alamodome. CBRE San Antonio First Vice President Lindsey Tucker said downtown development in San Antonio is a triangle, with the Frost Tower, Alamodome and The Pearl as the points.

"Our city is going to change over the next 10 to 15 years with all the development within that triangle," Tucker said. "The Frost Tower is going to be completed within the next 12 months. Every piece of real estate between there and the Alamo has plans on it, or people looking to purchase and lay out buildings on those sites."

Then-Mayor Henry Cisneros pitched the stadium 25 years ago with a National Football League franchise in mind. That team never materialized, and the Alamodome has been overshadowed by large-scale multibillion-dollar venues with retractable roofs.

As recently as five years ago, the Alamodome was called "the wrong project at the wrong time," one that had failed to live up to its potential in revitalizing downtown. 

"All these great things were supposed to happen on the Eastside after the Alamodome was built," former Council Member Helen Dutmer told The Rivard Report. "Well, look there today. Nothing much happened. People come and then they go home, and everything stays the same for the people left behind."

Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, the only restaurant near the Alamodome entrance, with the new marquee scoreboard behind it

Three years ago, it was suggested it might take up to $400M to upgrade the Alamodome to a world-class facility worthy of a Final Four. Instead, the city has committed $60M, which added four giant LED video walls, a new WiFi system, an extensive concourse expansion and a new large marquee.

“The Alamodome renovations 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 NCAA Final Four Championships," Alamodome General Manager Nicholas Langella said in a statement on the venue. "These technological enhancements will also better enable the Alamodome to competitively bid on future marquee national sporting events and conventions.”

Meanwhile, activity in other parts of Downtown is starting to spread toward the stadium. Some of that development will be at Hemisfair and Houston Street. Just blocks away from the stadium, REATA Real Estate has plans for St. Paul Square.

Plans to revitalize Houston Street and add a 2.2-mile linear park along San Pedro Creek have just begun, Tucker said. And the $200M redevelopment at Hemisfair will have an impact, too.

"So yes, when you drive it today, it may look like there's not development around the Alamodome," Tucker said. "If you're an outsider coming in, it might look like it's nothing more than older residential, but that's truly changing."

Empty storefront at St. Paul Square at Sunset Station

CBRE First Vice President Gene Willliams calls it a "transformational stage" for downtown, including the area around the Alamodome.

"If you were to look in the area of Houston Street, if you were to drive down there today, it would look a whole lot like what you see around the Alamodome," Williams said. "But the reality is that there have been a number of leases signed, there's work being done on a lot of those buildings. We just signed a lease with Royal Blue, which will be putting their first San Antonio location on Houston Street."

Leasing activity is far stronger than it looks, Williams said.

Adjacent to the Alamodome, The Baldwin at St. Paul Square is under construction on Center Street. Zachry, the developer on the Hemisfair project, recently sold Sunset Station and St. Paul Square to REATA for redevelopment.

REATA partner Don Thomas said the goal is to transform St. Paul Square into an entertainment district similar to the Pearl or Southtown.

“We want to make it a place that locals want to come to," Thomas told The Rivard Report. "Tourists want to go where the locals go anyway.”