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Official Review by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The WNBA's Stars moved to San Antonio in 2003, and took up residency in the then SBC Center (now their current home, the AT&T Center), and in the last decade plus have endeared themselves to the die-hard, Spurs-mad fans of the city. While they have not 100% duplicated the success of their parent club (they are indeed owned by the NBA's Spurs), they have qualified for the playoffs seven times and were the Western Conference champions in 2008.
Formerly known as the Silver Stars (they dropped the “Silver” from their name in 2014), the club was home to current NBA Assistant Coach Becky Hammon, whose number has been retired by the Stars, and the team now basks in the glow of a refurbished home arena.
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 AT&T Center has done a great job of incorporating traditional stadium fare with tastes that mirror those of the Alamo City. You have your traditional hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, etc., as well as Pizza Hut and margarita kiosks throughout the arena to add additional options. Prices are standard for pro venues, for example, a regular sized hot dog will set you back $5.99 without chili or cheese, and the jumbo variety will push closer to $6.99.
In addition to the concessions stands, rock and roll legends KISS opened up a brewpub on the ground floor/plaza level, called Rock & Brews, with over two dozen craft and specialty beers on tap. Their food selection include salads (like their Strawberry Fields or Rockin' House Salad), sandwiches, and burgers (such as their Pulled Pork or Backstage Burger). The restaurant is a little more upscale than traditional stadium food (the Pulled Pork sandwich is $10.49, for example), but it is high-quality. The bar also opens up to the Bud Light Courtyard, an open air concert pavilion, where live music is performed on game days - the restaurant has a great atmosphere and is a great place for a bite or a beer before or during a game.
The AT&T Center is also home to one of the Lone Star State's greatest treasures: Whataburger. The beloved chain, noted by its signature orange-and-white theme, is open year round (even on non-event days) and features their full menu of burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and shakes. If you've never been able to visit a Whataburger, it is definitely worth a stop. The label of "fast food" truly does not do it justice. Combo meals start around $6, so it is a good "bang for your buck" game day option.
But to get a real taste of San Antonio, make sure you visit the Street Tacos stand on the plaza level. Offering cheese, steak, or chicken quesadillas, the eponymous street tacos, and nachos, you get a lot of food for a relatively small cost (a steak quesadilla combo, which includes a souvenir cup drink, will set you back $18). These are some of the signature Tex-Mex street foods that San Antonio is known for.
Lastly, in the charter level (the lowest bowl level), there are "upscaled" versions of traditional game day favorites (gourmet hot dogs or nachos with chili, cheese, and guacamole, for example). There is also a brick oven pizza and gelato stand; for Stars game attendees, this level is open to everyone.
As the Spurs attained excellence and glory in the NBA, their tide of success helped raise the metaphorical boat that is their sister club, the Stars. San Antonio is now a full-fledged basketball town. The atmosphere during Stars games is generally electric, and the crowd is always engaged.
The team's mascot, The Fox, engages the fans from the opening tip to the closing buzzer. Whether he's having fun with kids in the stands or participating in one of the games held on court during a break, the Stars mascot is a worthy spiritual heir to his "distant cousin," the Spurs Coyote.
Part of what makes the atmosphere really engaging at Stars games are the upgrades that have been done to the AT&T Center in the last two years. The Stars did not play on their home court in 2015 (instead, they played next door at the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum) due to the season overlapping with the work being done. All told, 675 miles of communication wiring were added, greatly increasing fans ability to access the Internet in the stands, and upgrading their cell phone reception. Every seat in the AT&T Center is also new, and there are now 32 restrooms throughout the building. The scoreboards were likewise upgraded, including the "ribbon" boards that surround the stadium between seating areas. There are also nearly 8,000 "proper" parking spaces in the lots for the arena; this makes attending Stars games safe, easy, and efficient.
In addition, the drum corps, arena DJ, and the Star Squad (the team's de facto pep squad) all add to a truly fun experience for fans of any level. The only strike against the AT&T Center for Stars games is that the upper levels of the arena are closed off during games. This limits food and restroom options, and takes away the HEB Fan Zone in the upper concourse. It does not diminish fan energy at all, though.
Unlike San Antonio's other major sporting venues - specifically the Alamodome - the neighborhood amenities near the AT&T Center just aren't there at this point. The immediate neighborhood where the arena sits doesn't boast many amenities in terms of restaurants, attractions, or hotels. For fans coming into the City, you really can't stay anywhere close to the AT&T Center where you could walk to the game, or go grab a bite to eat afterward.
However, the arena is just a 10-15 minute drive (depending on traffic) from San Antonio's downtown area. The tourist hub of the city is chock-full of hotels and restaurants, and it is home to the River Walk and the Alamo. If you're coming in for a Stars game, this is your best bet in terms of fully enjoying your visit to San Antonio.
The Alamo City is a full-fledged basketball town now. Fans of the Stars come out in droves; the majority of which are knowledgeable about the game and a great many are passionate about their team. The unique style of women's basketball lends itself to creating die-hard fans of the sport, and the team's owners have done a lot to create not only a great product on the court, but also a great venue for them to play in. All this investment really shows in terms of fan engagement.
The AT&T Center is located in an area removed from the majority of the city's major traffic. There are two main access points to the arena: Houston St. and AT&T Center Parkway. Both of these roads offer access to the arena's parking lots, and both are feeder roads off of two of the city's main interstates: I-10 and I-35.
From these two highways, you can be anywhere in the city and be at the arena's exits within 20 minutes. Also, having two feeder roads makes for speedier exiting after events. For Stars games, in which fewer fans attend than other events at the venue, you won't have much of a problem getting to the game, getting parking, and leaving in an expedient manner.
For the chance to get to see a professional, major league basketball game, you really can't beat what you get for the cost of tickets to a Stars game. Tickets range from $10 to $140, and with the scaled back seating in the AT&T Center for Stars games, you really can't expect to get a "bad" seat anywhere. You won't be far from the action and you will get caught up in the fan energy.
Parking is also relatively inexpensive (from $10-$20, depending on how close you want to be to the arena) and you can eat on a budget and get your fill. The arena store also carries merchandise and paraphernalia for all of the AT&T Center's resident clubs. If you look hard enough, you can get a pretty good souvenir without breaking your wallet.
The Fox, the arena DJ, the drum corps, and the Star Squad all add up to extra fun for a night at a basketball game. The arena floor also has table seating (the Stars Front Row Club), complete with waiter service. You can also get upgraded to sit in a sofa in the Mission Zone seating area.
Since the AT&T Center is also the home of the Spurs, you can visit the team's five Larry O'Brien trophies on display on the Plaza level near the Southeast Entrance. Another great addition to AT&T Center is the two million dollars' worth of artwork that was added to the walls and hallways of the arena. Many are basketball and Spurs related, while some are San Antonio-centric; all add to the overall experience of your visit to a game.
If you visit San Antonio for a Stars game, not only will you get some great hoops action, but you will be enthralled by the energy of the crowd, enchanted by the ambiance of the arena, and satisfied by the grub. For "basketball purists," a WNBA game is as close as you can get to heaven on the hard court. Catch a Stars game when you can.
Member Review by pwdonaldson on Jul 18, 2012
Originally located in Salt Lake City, the “Starzz” were a banner member of the WNBA when the league tipped-off in 1997. After six seasons in Utah, the team moved to San Antonio, adjusted their nickname to the “Silver Stars,” and now share a home at the AT&T Center with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. The Silver Stars have drawn crowds which vary from a franchise high of 16,255 (2008) to near bottom of the league (7,527 season average in 2009). Fans attending a Silver Stars game can expect an NBA-styled atmosphere sure to satisfy the pro-basketball appetite when the NBA is out of season.
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