There are few sports venues worldwide which can put together the many pieces of the puzzle to make a perfect sports experience. When the AT&T Center hosts a San Antonio Spurs game, fans find out that that perfection is attainable. Whether it’s the immaculately clean arena (from seating areas, to concourse, to restrooms), the wide variety of concession items, or the passionate Spurs fanbase, there’s little doubt that your visit to the AT&T Center will be one of the best sporting experiences you’ve ever had.
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The AT&T Center has just about everything a hungry fan can ask for. There's a plethora of concession stand options including Top Dog (gourmet hot dogs), Tortas (Mexican-style sandwiches), Smokehouse BBQ, Whataburger, Taco Cabana, Pizza Hut, Texas/Fiesta Favorites (standard arena fare), the Jack Daniel's sports bar, the HEB Fan Zone (various concession options), and Igloo's Frozen Drinks. That doesn't even begin to cover the countless concession carts around the concourse like Lagniappe Today (Cajun theme). There are several great grabs to choose from. You can't go wrong with a BBQ plate at Smokehouse BBQ. The Tortas stand is right next door to the Smokehouse and I highly recommend this as a stop for fans, especially those not from Texas. A torta is a Mexican style sandwich which is popular throughout the region. Give the pork torta a try and I guarantee you won't regret it. When you're at a professional sports event, you know to expect high prices for concession items. Though the AT&T Center follows suit in that regard, I was pretty surprised and impressed that you could get bottomless soft drinks ($6.75), nachos ($6) and popcorn ($6) at both the Tortas and Smokehouse stands.
You won't leave thirsty either, well, at least not because of a lack of drink options (screaming along with passionate Spurs fans can leave your mouth a little dry). You'll find popular Coca-Cola options throughout the various stands and specialty type drinks like lemonade. Draft beer ranges in price from $5 to $10 depending on the stand. I found some of the cheapest prices to once again be at the Tortas/Smokehouse stands. Pretty much whatever alcoholic drink you're looking for can be found at the Jack Daniels sports bar area.
A very unique outdoor area known as the Bud Light Courtyard allows fans access to various food truck grub and live bands. If somehow you couldn't find what you were looking for inside the area, there's additional food options here as well as an entertaining break from the action.
The AT&T Center provides a perfect atmosphere for NBA action. Constructed in 2002, the AT&T Center has a listed capacity of 18,581 and cost approximately $175 million to develop. The arena is very fan friendly from the comfortable seating areas, to immaculate cleanliness of the facility, and acoustics from passionate Spurs fans. There really isn't a bad view from any of the seating areas and if you would rather catch the action in a sports bar styled setting you can grab a seat in the HEB Fan Zone which overlooks the arena from the upper level end line. I don't know how they do it, but you'd be hard pressed to find a single piece of trash on the floor. The arena staff not only ensures cleanliness, but they are also very friendly. I've heard some complaints about the ushers hassling fans and no doubt they make sure you are sitting in the appropriate area, but they do so with a smile and if you're attempting to sit where you actually purchased a ticket you shouldn't have any issues. The Spurs and AT&T Center really do put fans first.
The recent success of the Spurs has undoubtedly made the atmosphere even more exciting at the AT&T Center. The championship banners hanging from the rafters must be intimidating for visiting teams (ditto for the trophy case in the concourse). Even if the team has a down year, the Spurs are all San Antonio has when it comes to major professional sports teams. The Spurs are the pride of San Antonio and that will become readily apparent inside the arena. Spurs fans are loud, proud, and into the game from tip-off to the final buzzer.
The Spurs mascot, the Coyote, is very entertaining and fan friendly. Whether he's pulling a prank on a referee, taking pictures with fans, or shooting t-shirts into the stands, he's a fun element to the overall atmosphere. You definitely won't miss the Silver Dancers. Ever since the Laker Girls stole the show in Los Angeles, NBA dance teams around the country have become a show-stopper and you'll find the same experience at the AT&T Center. One of the things I was most impressed with was just how many t-shirts and giveaway items were tossed into the stands. Not only was the amount impressive, but the focus on shooting these items high enough to reach the upper deck seating was refreshing. Fans in the upper deck are often neglected, but not at Spurs game.
The concourse is decorated with a San Antonio theme with colored string lights hanging from the ceiling. Your walk through the concourse is colorful and there are plenty of engaging booths to grab your attention whether it's a free-throw contest by the fan shop or arcade style games in the upper level. As mentioned, the Jack Daniels sports bar and Bud Light Courtyard allow even the non-sports fans to find entertainment. If you come to the AT&T Center for a Spurs game and leave without having a good time, you either don't have a pulse or your favorite team just got beat yet again by the home team.
Not only will you have a top-notch experience inside the AT&T Center, but the San Antonio River Walk area is one of the premier travel destinations in the States. The arena is only a couple of miles outside of the River Walk which makes for a very short drive before and after the game. Restaurants and shops line the banks of the San Antonio River along bricked walkways. One of my favorite places (and one I highly recommend while in town) is sitting at a table under a colored umbrella at Casa Rio. The Tex-Mex style restaurant offers up a great variety of area favorites, including the Deluxe platter which serves as a sample of some of their best menu options like the delicious Chile Con Carne. You'll get to dine at the bank of the river watching tour boats and throngs of walkers pass by. You might even be serenaded by a Mariachi band. Another must stop restaurant along the river is the County Line. They dish up some the best ribs you'll ever taste. Be sure to grab a Margarita next door at Ritas on the River.
If the River Walk attractions aren't enough, there's plenty more entertainment in the San Antonio area. No trip here is complete without a visit to the Alamo (and it's free). Sea World is just outside the downtown area and is a great family-friendly stop. The Tower of the Americas offers a panoramic view of San Antonio while enjoying fine dining. The tower stands at 750 feet tall and is a space-needle style building with an observation deck.
There are plenty of great lodging options along the River Walk but these definitely come with a price-tag. With that said, you certainly get what you pay for. If you're looking for a more cost-efficient stay near the River Walk, give the Holiday Inn Express - San Antonio Rivercenter Area a look. You're only about a five minute drive away from the River Walk and the hotel offers a free shuttle service which runs every thirty minutes and allows you to skip out on $30+ parking fees closer to downtown.
It's hard to find a more passionate fan base than San Antonio Spurs fans. As mentioned above, the Spurs are the only major professional sports team in town and are no doubt the pride of San Antonio. Expect a sold-out crowd that lets the visiting team know they are there throughout the entire game. The fans are not only passionate, but have a high basketball IQ as well. There is a noticeable difference in crowd noise and atmosphere in the fourth quarter as the Spurs look to close-out yet another opponent in front of the home crowd. The majority of fans are very friendly, even to visiting fans.
The AT&T Center is located near both I-35 and I-10, as well as E Houston Street if coming from downtown. You'll likely run into a bit of traffic considering the close proximity to the downtown area. However, the Spurs and area law enforcement do a superb job of managing the traffic flow as well as could be expected. Parking doesn't break the bank, but expect to pay between $8 - $15 as you enter the gates. You will definitely want to park inside the arena parking lot because the surrounding area isn't very pedestrian friendly.
As you approach the arena, the ticket lines are short and the ushers are very helpful. As mentioned, the restroom facilities are exceptionally clean and there are never any lines. You'll also find a great diagram posted on a large flat screen TV just inside the main entrance area which shows an overlay of the arena seating sections. Also, there's a similar map posted on the concourse wall. This makes it pretty easy to identify where your section is within the arena and quickly make it to your seats.
The November 2012 Team Marketing Report assessment of NBA fan costs have the Spurs as the 9th most-costly fan experience in the NBA. This is primarily due to the average ticket cost which is reported at $58.45 (7th overall and above the NBA average of $50.99). Value tickets are available depending on your seat location expectations and run from as low as $9.50. Concession prices are very reasonable compared to other NBA venues. In fact, every item included in the Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index score is below the NBA average except for ticket price and team apparel (cap). If you don't mind sitting in the upper deck and can catch one of the $10 tickets, the ROI is pretty impressive for an NBA game. However, if you're looking for one of the better lower level seats, expect to pay some of the higher prices in the NBA.
Every great live sports experience is highlighted by certain 'extra' features which are unique compared to other venues or make the overall experience memorable. For a San Antonio Spurs game at the AT&T Center, be sure to consider the following during your stadium experience:
• The close proximity to the River Walk area is a huge plus. If you're anything like me, you'll immediately fall in love with the area.
• The Deluxe Platter at Casa Rio and ribs at the County Line are two of my favorite restaurant dishes. After trying both, you'll want to make another trip back to San Antonio just for seconds.
• I can't stress enough how impressed you'll be with the cleanliness of the arena. It's not an easy task, but the AT&T Center staff make it happen.
• The Spurs do a great job of memorializing the past. Whether it's the trophy case and pictures in the concourse or the banners hanging from the rafters, there's a constant reminder of great Spurs moments in history.
• The Bud Light Courtyard is a very unique option. If you're attending the game in a group where there's a few friends that aren't really sports fans, the courtyard is a great spot for them to take a break from the basketball action.
The AT&T Center's slogan, "something for everyone", rings true in many regards. Opened in 2002, it is a state-of-the-art facility that provides a variety of seating options to meet your needs, as well as an eclectic selection of concession stands that offer local San Antonio themed restaurants. The four-sided LED scoreboard above center court dazzles you with its replays and 10-pixel graphics. Team banners and retired jerseys drape the rafters briefing you on the history of the San Antonio Spurs.
The AT&T Center is a great place to watch a game and the arena really stands out for it's vibrant concourse and terrific food options. What really appealed to me was how the designers incorporated the feel of San Antonio in the concourse with festive RiverWalk design that had a lot of bright colors. The food is fantastic here with so many options and a lot of great Tex-Mex. There's also several dining options and the HEB FanZone (similar to a sports bar) is actually incorporated into the design of the interior as it overlooks the court. However, this also creates a bit of a negative appeal as I saw a lot of fans just hanging out here during the game instead of in their seats.
Despite being located in the city, it's kind of on the outskirts of downtown and the lack of neighborhood is disappointing, but it also allows for very easy access to the arena. Parking is abundant and simple and I didn't have any issues arriving or leaving.
The overall interior set-up is solid and the shape seems to be designed with a focus on basketball. Seats were also very comfortable and wide. Overall, AT&T Center and the Spurs provide a great NBA experience.
There's no doubt about it, the AT&T Center is the best arena in the NBA. It doesn't matter where you sit or stand you will have a great view of the court. The Fan Zone & Bud Light court yard make the fan experience that more fun.
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