Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Alamodome 100 Montana St San Antonio, TX 78203
Year Opened: 1993
UTSA Roadrunners – Alamodome
The UTSA Roadrunners entered the 2022 season, their 12th overall, with optimism among the student body, alumni, and San Antonio community at an all-time high. Coming off the team’s first conference championship in 2021, the program is on the rise as it looks to make a move to the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in the near future. With all the change and growth, the one constant in the program has been the team’s home, the venerable Alamodome.
Located in downtown San Antonio, the Alamodome has been the city’s premier athletic venue for going on three decades now. The Dome has been home to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, minor league hockey, virtually every form of professional football league, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments (including the Final Four on several occasions), big-time boxing, and pro wrestling. It’s also home to high school football and the annual home of college football’s Alamo Bowl.
As the Roadrunners have made their nest at the Dome, the facilities have reciprocated in welcoming their only permanent tenant. In recent years the stadium has been renovated to upgrade the lighting and sound systems, as well as redo the concourses and concessions. They also made it more of a home for the Runners by adding signage on the exterior promoting the city’s only FBS football program. With the team’s success, the Alamodome has become one of the best venues in Conference USA. Read on to see what makes it special.
Food & Beverage 3
The Alamodome last revamped their facilities in 2016, which included a new concessions vendor. The new vendor upgraded the point-of-sales kiosks at all the stands, which had been a pain point for much of the Dome’s existence. This speeded up the process and – thanks to the past few years of the pandemic – the facilities have gone cashless and now offer delivery to fan’s seats in certain areas of the Dome, thanks to a QR code that can be scanned at your seat.
In terms of food there are plenty of options both on the main concourse and in the upper levels. You’ll find stands selling all your game day favorites (nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, candy, etc.) for relatively reasonable prices. On the main concourse the new vendor did a nice job of bringing in name brand vendors to fill in some stands, to give fans some upgraded food selections. These include some local restaurant favorites like the Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant stand, which sells versions of their scrumptious beef fajita tacos during Roadrunner games. You can also find Papa John’s Pizza, Nathan’s World-Famous Hot Dogs, and a Johnny Rockets stand selling burger and French fry combo baskets.
There is also a beer garden and – new for this season – a Topo Chico hard seltzer and Yuengling Beer stand for those looking to slake their thirsts. These are all just the tip of the proverbial iceberg; you’ll find what you’re looking for at the Alamodome and you won’t break the bank getting it, which is always helpful.
For UTSA games it all starts – and to be fair, this is the way it is at most college football games – in the parking lots with the tailgating fans. The B and C lots surrounding the Alamodome are awash in a carnival-like atmosphere during home games. Fan groups have really taken off in recent seasons, and the tailgates have become increasingly more elaborate. The lots are packed on gameday, and it looks like the traditions will only grow as the years go forward.
Inside the Dome things can get loud – really loud. I say this with the caveat that this tends to fluctuate with the opponent the Roadrunners face each week. Averaging a hair under 20,000 fans per game the past two seasons as their fortunes have soared (with crowds swelling over 40,000 on some occasions), the acoustics make this one of the loudest facilities in all of college football. This is not just my blatant UTSA fanaticism speaking here (season ticket holder since day one, no big deal); this is a sentiment echoed on many occasions by opposing players and head coaches.
With the improvements to the lighting and sound system the team has been able to do more to engage with fans throughout the game. The most prevalent example of this is during the team introductions, when the video boards, stadium lights, fog machines, and fire are all brought into play. Other traditions adding to the atmosphere include the Rowdy Rush, where students run onto the field prior to the player introductions and form two lines that the players run through.
During the fourth quarter the team has had a number of traditions over the years, and decided to adopt a new one this year after doing away with a controversial one last season. Now at the start of the fourth quarter, the team and the fans, in addition to lighting up their cellphones as flashlights, throw up their hands in the shape of a triangle to mimic the team’s triangle of toughness motto. This season also saw the team unveil their conference championship banner, which hangs above the north end zone.
They also light up the Alamodome exterior at night, either blue and orange or just orange (for orange out games), which is also a welcome touch.
The Alamodome is smack-dab in the middle of San Antonio’s vibrant downtown area. This is the area of town where most out-of-towners tend to stay when they visit the Alamo City – it is where the trendy San Antonio River Walk and its vast opportunities for photos, good food, and live music is. It’s also the home of the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, HemisFair Park, and the Historic Pearl. That’s just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg too; shopping, live music venues, museums, and more abound in the area, and all are within walking distance of the Alamodome.
In terms of dining opportunities there are also an abundance of places to choose from right near the Dome; as a lifelong San Antonian I’ll pass along a few of my favorites. First up, the oldest restaurant in the city, Schilo’s Delicatessen – famous for its German-inspired dishes (schnitzels, Reuben sandwiches, sausage and cheese platters, etc.), split-pea soup, and house-made root beer (it’s delicious, y’all), Schilo’s has been a downtown San Antonio institution since 1917. Another favorite, and one you’ve probably seen but didn’t know you have, is Casa Rio. Situated right on the aforementioned River Walk and famed for its multi-colored umbrellas, Casa Rio is one of the oldest Tex-Mex restaurants in the city. If you’re looking for some flat-out good enchiladas, tacos, or fajitas, head on over; if nothing else, you won’t be able to beat the view.
If there is one area where I would add an asterisk to the rating, it would be to this section. For one, I make no bones about the fact that I’m a UTSA alum and a fan of the program. As such, I think I have a unique perspective on the fanbase. Being still in the program’s early stages, if not infancy, the fanbase is still growing.
The Alamodome is one of the loudest venues in college football, and easily the loudest in Conference USA. The fans that show up on game day can be counted on to sport some variation of the blue, the orange, and the white. In their inaugural game back in 2011 (and what a day it was), the Roadrunners drew over 56,000 fans to the Alamodome that day, in one of the largest ever groups to fill the venue.
They’ve been trying to duplicate those numbers ever since. For big games against big opponents the team will draw in the casual fan; however, against lesser teams and in the years when the team has been down, the crowds have been less than sparse. Hopefully, this will increase over the years as the program continues to engrain itself in the fabric of the city.
One area that cannot be denied where the fans have exceled is the student section – it has been packed season in and season out. This is quite a feat, as the Alamodome is close to 20 miles away from UTSA’s main campus.
As mentioned the Alamodome is within walking distance of numerous hotel accommodations in the city’s downtown area; this is a great part of the appeal of the facility. It is also a 15-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport, which again makes the Dome a desirous spot for out-of-town visitors.
Why it doesn’t score higher is largely due to the parking situation – the Dome has three parking lots surrounding it (A, B, & C); these are open to parking permit holders only on gamedays. So, unless you can score one of these on the secondary market, or ride with someone that has one, you’ll have to find street parking.
Across Interstate 37, which fronts the Alamodome and separates it from downtown, there are numerous parking garages. These do get pricey though, especially on weekends. The neighborhood surrounding the Dome has numerous businesses and entrepreneurial homeowners who have opened their properties to parking on gamedays, however, so depending on how much you’re willing to pay and/or willing to walk, you can score a good deal. If you do park during a game with high attendance, it’s going to be a bit of a mess getting out of the area as well, as many of the streets will be shut down to help mitigate the traffic – just be forewarned.
The city’s public transportation option, VIA, also offers a park and ride option to the games, but that will mean parking elsewhere, away from the downtown area.
Return on Investment 4
Single-game tickets for the UTSA Roadrunners at the Alamodome start at just $20 each. As they get ready to enter the AAC next season, this is going to be a tremendous bargain. In the past, they have brought in some top-tier non-conference opponents; however, as they upgrade their actual conference opponents, every game will be a bargain going forward.
Concessions are about on par with what you’d expect to pay at a mid-major college program. You won’t go broke, but you can expect to pay $20 or more if you want (for example) a hot dog, popcorn, and a drink, which is probably an average order for a fan. Obviously if you want any of the upgraded concessions or alcohol I mentioned above, that will cost you a bit more. For parking, expect to start at $25 and work your way upwards.
The Roadrunners have all the traditional pomp and circumstance that comes with college football at their games. In addition to their already mentioned player introduction (which is electric, by the way), the program brings out their award-winning band, the Spirit of San Antonio (SOSA). This group plays at halftime and throughout the game to the delight of the home crowd. There are also the cheer and pom squads and the team’s mascot, Rowdy. Always willing to interact with fans and take part in photo ops and on-the-field contests, Rowdy is beloved by the fanbase.
As I’ve mentioned I’m an alum and a fan, but I’ve done my very best to remain objective in this review. The program is still in its nascent stages, and I’m honestly excited about seeing what the future holds. If you’re an unaffiliated college football fan there’s plenty of room on the UTSA bandwagon. In all honesty, the Alamodome does at times frequently show its age, though – in 2023 it will celebrate its 30th anniversary, and while it has undergone numerous improvements over the years, it still does look dated.
With all that said UTSA games are flat out fun – especially when the home team pulls out a win, which they have done with increasing frequency. The Alamodome, while on the older side, is still a fun place to catch a game. It may not make it on anyone’s bucket list, but if you’re in San Antonio during the season, I would recommend stopping down; you can’t beat the location and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a good show.