Nirenberg: NFL’s road to Mexico goes through San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg says the City of San Antonio is again looking into how the region would fare should it be competing for another professional sports team.

Nirenberg told ESPN San Antonio Tuesday the city’s experience with the Alliance of American Football was a great one for San Antonio — purely from an attention standpoint.

“Frankly, I think their [the AAF] success scared people a little bit,” the mayor told ESPN San Antonio’s Rob Thompson and Jason Minnix.  “If you read the story of the AAF, I think that a lot of folks were hoping that it would be successful and that there would be a lot of support out there and it would grow organically.  But if you look at San Antonio’s performance, compared to the seven other locations around the United States for this league, we blew everybody out of the water.  If there was one main, big statement that was made in the AAF in terms of who is ready for primetime, it was that San Antonio’s stock rose dramatically.”

San Antonio averaged just under 28,000 fans at each of their home games.  The next closest cities, San Diego and Orlando, had just under 20,000 fans.

The local assessment will be an update to one done in 2011 on the city to see what direction San Antonio should go in next and how to best position the city to potential suitors.

“The study showed that MLS and AAA were the next available options for us and we pursued those,” Nirenberg explained.

That led the city and Bexar County to buy Toyota Field and contracted Spurs Sports and Entertainment to bring an MLS team to the city.  Those efforts failed.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Missions are in their first season of AAA play in the woefully deficient Wolff Stadium.

The mayor had no news on a new stadium for the Missions, noting the team wants to be in a new stadium by 2021.

“I don’t support the use of public funds for a minor league stadium,” stated the mayor. “However, we will judge a deal on its merits.”

Nirenberg’s conversation with the sports talkers focused primarily on football and the prospect of having the NFL calling San Antonio home in the future.

“If you are to look around the country and ask yourself which city, which does not currently have an NFL team, would be able to take a franchise on day one, perform well — San Antonio would rise to the top.  We showed that with the facilities, but also the fan base and the corporate support of the professional franchise that was here in the Commanders.”

One goal with this new study is to look at the super-regional scale of San Antonio’s place in the sports landscape.

Both the NFL and MLB have made it clear they have their eyes on Mexico for future expansion.  The MLB has had serious flirtations in the past with Puerto Rico, though that appears to have cooled.  The same is possible with the latest urge to go international.

Nirenberg said those eyes south of the border should be taking a close look at San Antonio.

“As I have told folks in the league, the road to Mexico for the NFL goes through San Antonio,” the mayor said.  “We do know the NFL has some interest in Latin America and that gateway goes straight through San Antonio.”

The mayor was confident the Alamodome was a more than suitable temporary home for any NFL franchise.  However, a permanent team would definitely get some new digs.

“But when it comes to a permanent NFL franchise in San Antonio, obviously we know part of that would be a long term home — probably an outdoor home with natural turf,” Nirenberg stated.  “That is a conversation that will be held eventually when we decided to go down that route.  It will be done with the public.”

The mayor said there have not been any serious conversations with the XFL.  The city had last communicated with that league before it moved forward with the AAF.

As for the study, Nirenberg said the city should expect to get the results of that assessment by the end of the year.

San Antonio to assess viability of future professional sports teams

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