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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In 2006, the dream of bringing high level college football to San Antonio took the first major step forward with the University of Texas – San Antonio (UTSA) soliciting a feasibility study for Division I football. The dream became reality with board approval in 2008. Ensuring that the program made a big initial splash, the Roadrunners snagged former National Champion head coach Larry Coker to build a team from scratch. In 2011, UTSA hit the gridiron for the first time as a college football program. Calling the Alamodome home, the Roadrunners would seal a victory in their first ever game beating Northeastern State 31-3 in front of an announced crowd of 56,743.
The potential of college football in San Antonio and at the Alamodome was evident. In a major U.S. city with only one major professional sport (NBA’s San Anontio Spurs) and no other major college competitor, the sky is limit for UTSA football. The Roadrunners were able to jump the sinking WAC ship, the conference that initially offered UTSA a DI-FBS lifeline, for a step-up to a reloading Conference USA. If UTSA can string together a few winning seasons and maintain a strong attendance average, membership in CUSA may be brief as well.
If you’re following your favorite team on the road or just looking for an under the radar exciting college football atmosphere, you’ll be presently surprised with the overall quality of the Roadrunner football experience at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Alamodome was built, in part, to lure an NFL team to San Antonio. With that in mind, big league concessions were included in the construction plans. There's plenty of variety with options ranging from favorites like hot dogs ($4.50), hamburger basket ($8.50) and nachos ($6), to specialty items like Earl Campbell hot links, fajitas, gourmet hot dogs, salad bar, BBQ options, pizza, and more.
Personally, I'd recommend grabbing one of Earl Campbell's hot link sandwiches for $4.
Your soda options will be Pepsi products ranging from $5.50 - $6 from the fountain and $4 bottled. Alcohol is sold at the Alamodome with a good variety of beer and frozen margaritas.
The atmosphere for a Roadrunners game at the Alamodome is unexpectedly electric. Expect to see a full lower bowl with a few fans in the upper deck on the west side. Being in a dome the fan noise is enhanced, but it takes a rowdy crowd to generate noise. On big plays and defensive third downs, you'll find yourself impressed with how loud it can get in the Alamodome. Leading the charge is the UTSA student section. Though UTSA is a commuter school and the Alamodome is almost a 20 minute drive from the campus, students show up in droves. The Spirit of San Antonio, the UTSA marching band, adds to the noise from the student section. The UTSA Cheer team and Pom Squad add to the pageantry of Roadrunner football. Rowdy, the Roadrunner mascot, engages fans in the stands and on the field.
The Alamodome is a squared building with two levels of seats. Total capacity for football games is listed at 65,000 (and expandable to 72,000), but the upper deck seating areas behind the end zones are usually closed off. Video scoreboards are located in the northwest and southeast upper deck corners. The playing surface at the Alamdome is artificial SportField. Originally constructed in 1993, the Alamodome has 6,000 club seats and over 30 suites.
A major benefit of catching a Roadrunner game at the Alamodome is getting to spend time in San Antonio. The River Walk area is down-right beautiful and there are plenty of restaurant and shopping options along the river. Grab a table along the riverside at Casa Rio and order up a bowl of Chile Con Carne under a colored umbrella. If you're looking for great Texas BBQ, you'll find it at Two Bros. BBQ Market. This is hands-down some of the best barbecue you'll ever have. Order the cherry-glazed baby back ribs and some brisket. You'll also find tasty pork ribs at the County Line.
When you're not eating, there's plenty to see either along the River Walk or in the greater San Antonio area. You have to make time for a tour of the Alamo. Budget some family time at Sea World. Check out the the Tower of the Americas, a space-needle building standing at 750 feet tall.
There are plenty of great lodging options in the downtown area. Some of the most beautiful hotel views you can experience nationwide are along the River Walk at night. If you're like me, however, and looking to save a couple of bucks, I recommend the Holiday Inn Express - San Antonio Rivercenter Area. You don't get the luxury of being right on the River Walk, but hotel offers a free shuttle service to the downtown area that runs every thirty minutes. The overall room price will be cheaper and you'll save on outrageous parking fees.
Though many could sense the potential of UTSA football at the Alamodome, some certainly doubted whether college football would work in San Antonio. The response has been better than most could have realistically imagined. UTSA closed the 2011 season with an average attendance of 35,521 and in 2012, it was 29,226. At the time of this review, the 2013 season had not yet completed, but the average attendance held steady at 29,747. The potential exists for a much higher average in the future.
San Antonio is starving for quality football action. The city has embraced the NBA and has one of the better home-court advantages in the nation. NFL dreams have been dashed on a number of occasions, most recently with the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina, football has alluded San Antonio and the Alamodome until now. Though the level of competition is still a bit wanting for the local, non-alumnus fan base, we can only imagine what consistent elite level competition would do for attendance at UTSA games. Expect a loud, passionate, and engaged fan base.
A major set-back to the overall Roadrunner experience at the Alamodome is the parking situation. Don't expect to park in the Alamodome lots unless you're a season ticket holder or provided a reserved pass. If you don't plan accordingly, you'll find yourself in a slow moving quagmire as you try to make your way around the Alamodome until you realize you will have to park elsewhere. Some private lots are available around the dome and if you're staying downtown, you might be able to catch a transport to the dome area. If you're open to public transportation, I'd highly recommend that you give the VIA Park & Ride a chance.
Getting to the stadium is a bit of a hassle as well. The Alamodome appears to have been constructed like a castle with a huge mote surrounding the stadium. This limits your access points and could lead to a long walk around if you don't know where you're going. Once you get to the gate, the experience drastically improves. You'll make your way inside without much delay and the concourses are spacious.
Ticket prices will range from $15 to $25 for most seats. That's not too bad of a deal depending on the competition. UTSA seems to be committed to bringing in some high quality non-conference opponents with matchups against Oklahoma State and Houston in 2013 and future home games scheduled against New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado State, Kansas State and Baylor. Concession prices are a bit high but that's made up for with variety. Depending on how you choose to get to the game, parking could be a bit expensive. Overall, however, considering the heightened atmosphere and affordable ticket prices, the return on investment for UTSA football at the Alamodome is fairly high.
•The San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame Tribute is located in plaza level concourse. This a great tribute with bronze plaques of San Antonio sports legends like Pat Knight, David Robinson, Avery Johnson, Priest Holmes, and Bruce Bowen, among others.
•There are several merchandise sales booths throughout the concourse. If you come to the game without your UTSA gear, you're in luck.
•The Alamodome has a very friendly staff. If you're lost (or looking lost), expect someone to be available and willing to assist.
Member Review by EGrant on Dec 09, 2012
The UTSA football program has awakened like no other program in the country over the past two years.
After not having football until 2011, the Roadrunners lured Larry Coker to San Antonio and now inhabit the Alamodome for their home games, the former stomping grounds for the San Antonio Spurs prior to the AT&T Center opening before the 2002-03 season.
The Alamodome has a 65,000-seat capacity for UTSA games, and can be expanded to 72,000 if necessary. It’s the home to various sports and companies across the United States, including the UIL State Marching competition, the San Antonio Talons arena football team and the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The Roadrunners play football in the Western Athletic Conference during the 2012 season, but will make the transition to Conference-USA beginning in 2013. They’ve done quite well so far, including finishing off a winning campaign this year and taking care of business against new full-time IH-35 rival Texas State.
Here’s a look at UTSA’s stay in the stadium. It’s quickly becoming San Antonio’s prized football possession, at least until the Dallas Cowboys return for training camp.
Member Review by JB302 on Feb 23, 2013
There could not be a better atmosphere for football than the Alamodome. I've been to several mid-major football games in several areas across the country and nothing else is even close. I did notice where the article states that:
"Just minutes away from the downtown scene, you could exit the Alamodome, get back to your car and be on the river in a matter of minutes if you play your cards right."
The truth is that you can walk across the bridge that crosses over the interstate and be at the Riverwalk in minutes as well. As the crow flies I would guess it to be maybe 8 or so city blocks from the Riverwalk & Alamo to the Alamodome itself. If you have a hotel room at one of the many surrounding the Riverwalk, you can make it one long day of fun and football and never have to get in your car.
12656 West Ave
San Antonio, TX 78216
111 W Crockett St
San Antonio, TX 78205
601 Tower of the Americas Way
San Antonio, TX 78205
1309 E Commerce
San Antonio, TX 78205