Alamodome – All-American Bowl
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Alamodome 100 Montana St San Antonio, TX 78203
Year Opened: 1993
All-American Bowl – Alamodome
For over 20 years the nation’s best high school football players have competed against one another in the annual All-American Bowl. The game between all-stars from the East and the West has featured some of the best players in the recent history of the game – these include Vince Young, Andrew Luck, Tim Tebow, Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Chase Young.
Since 2002 – with exception of a COVID year in 2021 – the game has been held at the venerable Alamodome in downtown San Antonio. The stadium, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023, has a long tradition of hosting numerous football games over the years; it serves as the home field for the UTSA Roadrunners and is the site of the Alamo Bowl each December. Countless high school games, minor league football, and even NFL games have been played on the Alamodome’s field.
While it can at times feel truly cavernous, it has proven to be a great facility for football, especially high school football; the All-American Bowl is no exception. Read on to learn what makes the game and the venue something all fans should see.
Food & Beverage 3
Not all the regular concession stands at the Alamodome are open during the All-American Bowl. However, what they do have is perfectly fine for fans on game day. At numerous spots on the main concourse fans can get their fill of hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, hamburgers and fries, tacos, and bottled drinks. There are also a few spots dedicated to selling bottled domestic and imported beers; you won’t go hungry or thirsty at the Alamodome, but for this game the offerings are in the average category.
While the Alamodome basically opens up only the lower bowl for this game, and fans are there primarily to cheer on their friends and family members playing in the game (as opposed to a particular team), the atmosphere is still remarkably good for this game. It feels like a big deal, and everyone involved treats it as such.
There is signage everywhere (this also extends to the downtown San Antonio area) touting the game. Local high school marching bands and cheerleaders keep the crowd engaged, and there are several game merchandise stores on the main concourse as well. But the true event that keeps the atmosphere high (and I’ll discuss it more in the Extras section) and makes this a spectacle is the player commitments – on a stage outside the north end zone, players stand in front of an array of hats with their prospective colleges’ logos. After a brief exchange, an uncommitted player will make his choice of where he will spend the next three to four years of his academic and playing career. It’s a lot of fun and just shows the caliber of players involved in the game.
I’ve written about the Alamodome in numerous reviews, and in particular why this section ranks as high as it does. There is a reason that big-time events still make their way to a facility that is now 30 years old, and it is primarily due to location. The dome is right in the heart of the Alamo City’s vibrant downtown – home to some of the area’s best hotels, restaurants, and attractions, downtown San Antonio is where most people want to be when they visit the city.
The Alamodome is within walking distance of most of the mentioned best of the best sites and attractions. These include the fabled – and eponymous – Alamo shrine; the Cradle of Texas Liberty is one of the most visited sites in the country, and is currently undergoing an historic renovation and expansion. If you’re visiting the city for the game, it is a must to see the Alamo.
Another site that should be high on visitors to do list is taking a stroll on the San Antonio River Walk. Built along the banks of the river that bears its name, the River Walk extends the length of downtown and beyond. Visitors can dine at top-tier restaurants, do some shopping, or stop in at dozens of spots for some libations. You should also make a point to hop a ride on one of the River Walk barges.
When it comes to dining, there are numerous chains to take in, but you really need to make a point to try something local. In that vein, it doesn’t get more local than Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia. For over 75 years, the Cortez family – owners of Mi Tierra – have been the godfathers of Tex-Mex cuisine in San Antonio – this is the gold standard.
Another newer spot to visit is one of my all-time favorites in the city, Schilo’s. This old-world German delicatessen is also the oldest restaurant in the city. Known for house-made root beer, made-from-scratch deli sandwiches, and the best cup/bowl of split pea soup in all of South Texas, Schilo’s will fill you up!
For hotels, downtown San Antonio has scores that run the entire gamut of price ranges. However, if you want to be able to walk to the game at the Alamodome, there are several that are less than five minutes away – these include Staybridge Suites San Antonio Downtown Convention Center and City View Inn & Suites. Again, depending on what your budget is, you’ll find something suitable for you that is not too far from the stadium if you stay downtown.
All Star games are always a little tricky to gauge, in terms of fans. As mentioned above in the Atmosphere section, the vast majority of the fans in attendance are relatives and/or friends of the 100-plus players on the two rosters, and not of any particular team. That being said, it’s still a football game, and big plays still bring the fans out of their seats.
The most recent game had an announced crowd of over 23,000 and that seems accurate; it was a good crowd that stayed around for the entirety of the game, and even well afterwards to have a meet-and-greet with the players.
Fans heading to the All-American Bowl at the Alamodome won’t have a hard time getting there; it is easily one of the most recognizable landmarks across the San Antonio skyline. The dome is a 10-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport, which offers scores of flights in and out of the city on an hourly basis.
If you’re driving to the Alamodome it is located at a virtual crossroads of three major highways that ribbon the city: Interstates 10 and 35 and state highway 37/281. These are the major thoroughfares in the city and once you hop on, you can be anywhere in San Antonio in less than 30 minutes.
Once on site, parking in the dome’s two open lots starts at $20 per car; however, the neighborhood surrounding the Alamodome has built a cottage industry on selling parking to events for often much less. Or, if you choose not to drive or utilize a ride-sharing service, San Antonio’s public transportation service, VIA Metropolitan Transit, offers bus service to and from the Alamodome throughout the day.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for the All-American Bowl started at $25 per person. When you couple that with $20 for parking and relatively affordable concessions, this turns out to be a bargain. To get a chance to see the next Trevor Lawrence, or Reggie Bush, or Patrick Peterson at what is essentially the start of their careers, the cost to attend the All-American Bowl is truly a bargain.
As mentioned above, the extras for the game are mainly the draw of the player commitments – this is really something to see and it truly fires up the crowd, especially when a player selects the school of fans in attendance. The other draws are the local high school marching bands and cheer squads.
At the most recent game, an added attraction was the play of some flag football squads from the area during halftime; it’s fun seeing youngsters getting to enjoy a game in a venue like the Alamodome.
The All-American Bowl is a game unlike any other and for fans of football, it’s a treat to get the chance to see it in person. The Alamodome truly comes into its own for high school games – with basically only the sideline seats open for viewing, fans get the best sightlines of the whole field. Adding the bands and cheerleaders make it even more like a typical high school game, albeit one that is broadcast live on network television. I would definitely add this game to your bucket list if you haven’t already.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.