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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Frost Bank Center – San Antonio Spurs



Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

Frost Bank Center 1 Frost Bank Center Drive San Antonio, TX 78219

Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 18,418

 

San Antonio Spurs – Frost Bank Center

There is an undeniably special bond between the people of the Alamo City and their beloved hometown basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs. Since the then Dallas Chaparrals moved to San Antonio in 1973, the city has fully embraced the silver and black wholeheartedly and with both arms. Since that time, when the ABA was in full swing and Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin was finger-rolling his way to scoring titles, the Spurs have been the metaphorical only game in town.


The fans have rewarded their team with undying devotion; the famed Baseline Bums became the bane of every team visiting San Antonio with their rowdy antics, and gave the Spurs a unique home-court advantage. It was a love affair that was far from one-sided, as the team rewarded its loyal devotees with five NBA Championships, sparked by the careers of Hall of Famers David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili, and Tony Parker, all led by Hall of Famer in waiting in Gregg Popovich.



For over two decades, the Spurs went on an extended run of success that was unprecedented in modern American sports, making the playoffs every single season from 1997-1998 through 2019-2020. The team moved into their current home, the then SBC Center in time for the 2002-2003 season, and after several down seasons, there is renewed optimism in the Alamo City, thanks in large part to a towering, teenage, French phenom.


A new arena naming partner gave birth to Frost Bank Center, which coincided with this upturn in optimism – the partnership has also given a much-needed sprucing up of the old barn on San Antonio’s east side. Read on to learn about all that is shiny and new in the Alamo City.

 

Food & Beverage   5

One area where the arena has lacked, no matter what its name has been, is in the food and beverage department, which is unfitting for a city like San Antonio that prides itself as a prime dining destination. There are still a plethora of traditional gameday fare stands here, but with the rebranding, there has come a whole slew of new food and drink options.


The first is a good and bad type of situation; the good is a new food hub on the arena’s plaza level. Dubbed SA Central, it showcases a wide swath of San Antonio’s most acclaimed restaurants – the hub serves as a pop-up kitchen for such places as Bunz Burgers, Shuck Shack, The Frutería, and Two Brothers BBQ. Not only does this offer fans a chance at some one-of-a-kind great food options, but it also serves as a way to highlight the local food scene.


The bad part of this equation, however, at least in my opinion, is that SA Central replaces the Whataburger that was in the same spot. You can still find some Whataburger options, just not the full experience that had been there in the past.



Other highlights this year can be found in the newly renamed Frost Club, which replaced the charter-level area and is now open only to certain ticket holders. A slew of spots are available, including standbys such as Crust Pizza, Davila’s BBQ, and Garrison Brothers Distillery, the first legal whiskey distiller in Texas. Again we see all great-tasting, atypical options, and all local spots; new this year in the Frost Club is Fries and Floats, which offers exactly what it implies, which is always welcome.


Back this year in the H-E-B Fan Zone on the balcony level is the San Antonio Culinary Residency Program, which features a rotating menu of local restaurant favorites. On tap this year are Baklovah Bakery and Sweets, Howzit Hawaiian Kitchen, La Panadería, and Panda Brothers, among others – it’s a great chance to again sample some non-traditional items during the game, and also support local small businesses.

 

Atmosphere   4

One of the best things I have always found at (now) Frost Bank Center is the large amount of art and photo ops spread throughout the facility; every level has pieces ranging from art displays and murals to photos by local artists.



As part of the Frost Bank refresh, some new pieces have been added this year, including a life-sized version of the Spurs Coyote doing his famous stomp, and an interactive tunnel in the Frost Club that changes colors with the volume of the crowd in the stands.


Other sites that add to the uniqueness of the facility include the display of the Spurs five Larry O’Brien championship trophies, the banners hanging from the rafters commemorating those championships, and the retired numbers of Spurs greats from the past.


One of the best spots in the whole arena is behind Rock & Brews pub on the plaza level. The doors at the back of the restaurant open out into a live music courtyard, where bands perform before most home games. There is also a large, Spurs logo-shaped firepit for the cold nights at the beginning of the season, and you can take your beverages in and out, which is nice.


There are several team stores throughout Frost Bank Center, ranging from massive ones on the plaza level to smaller ones on the balcony. All manner of Spurs gear is available for fans there, in case you need to stock up on your silver and black paraphernalia.

 

Neighborhood   3

This is always a tricky one for me to rate – Frost Bank Center is located on the east side of the Alamo City in a fairly industrial area. With that in mind, there aren’t many options for food, lodging, and entertainment before or after games in the immediate vicinity.


One spot that I can highly recommend is actually within walking distance from the arena; this is Ball Hoggs BBQ, which specializes in the trinity of Texas barbecue: brisket, ribs, and sausage. Also on the menu are barbecue chicken, chicken wings, sandwiches (did someone say brisket grilled cheese?), and a slew of sides. It’s a great spot that fills up crazy fast on game days/nights.


The about is about the breadth of spots in the area for food. Lodging is just a smidge better, but not by much. There is Quality Inn I-10 East Near Frost Bank Center and Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham San Antonio near Frost Bank Ctr; these are both budget-friendly and are by far your best options for spots in the immediate area.


The good thing about the location of Frost Bank Center is that once you make the trek up Frost Bank Drive, you immediately run into Interstate 35 and are a short 10-minute drive from downtown San Antonio, home of the Alamo, the Historic Pearl, the Alamodome, Hemisfair Park, the San Antonio River Walk, Hotel Emma, and Grand Hyatt San Antonio River Walk, but also restaurants ranging from the historic, like Casa Rio, to the ultra-modern, like Maverick Texas Brasserie. Whatever you’re looking for, downtown SA will have it.

 

Fans   5

As I mentioned, there is a special bond between the Spurs and their fans – they annually rank in the top half of the NBA in attendance, with over 645,000 fans per season filling Frost Bank Center. This season, thanks in no small part to the arrival of Victor Wembanyama to the club, San Antonio is averaging a crowd of 18,233 per game; this means that virtually every home game this year has been a sellout.


The vast majority that attend games can be found wearing the team’s signature colors or sporting jerseys – both of current stars and of those aforementioned greats of the past. The Spurs fans that show up show out; they’re loud, they’re passionate, and they love their Spurs. This makes for a great environment at every home game.


 

Access   4

Frost Bank Center is accessible by two major highways, Interstates 10 and 35, respectively. Once you exit though things can get a little dicey – there are just two roads that front the arena, and these roads feed all the parking lots for games.


Just a word of caution, if you’re someone who needs to be in their seat with their food and drinks before tipoff, you’ll need to plan accordingly. With just these limited ways to access Frost Bank Center, there do tend to be bottlenecks and traffic the closer you get to your destination.


Parking is ample at Frost Bank Center, however, so that’s not an issue. Also, if you happen to park in the farthest lots from the arena, there are shuttles to take fans to and from the area leading up to the first quarter and at the start of the fourth.

 

Return on Investment   4

Tickets for Spurs games are still shockingly affordable, given the landscape of most NBA teams. This might be in part a combination of San Antonio’s still small-town feel and atmosphere, and its relationship with its fans. However, it might also be due to the lack of success the team has had on the court in the past few seasons.


Regardless, upper balcony level seats can be purchased for as shockingly low as $10 per person. Now, ticket prices fluctuate depending on the team and/or players coming to S.A., but not by a huge margin. This is an incredible deal, especially if you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor of Wembymania in his rookie season.


Parking is pretty affordable as well; some third-party sites sell spaces for as little as $9 a game. These are going to be in those lots where the shuttle service is offered, but still, it’s a great bargain. The only thing keeping this category from being a 5 is the concessions cost, which are still pretty commensurate with the rest of the NBA. However, for a family wanting to get to an NBA game, you would be hard-pressed to see these prices being beaten.

 

Extras   4     

I fully admit a bias here, but I really believe that this category is one that the Spurs excel at. There is an in-stadium DJ, who is basically in charge of the music being played inside Frost Bank Center. He’s in charge of setting the mood and keeping the fan energy levels up throughout the game, as well as spinning some classic songs that S.A. residents truly love.


A few years ago, in keeping up with the times as well as with the team’s overall philosophy, the Spurs retired their dance squad in favor of something a bit more modern. In time for the 2018-19 season, the team introduced the Spurs Hype Squad, made up of a collection of some of the best street dancers in South Texas.


Last but not least is the team’s mascot, the beloved Coyote. Whether he’s pumping up the crowd, performing incredible acrobatic stunts, or catching live bats that have invaded the arena, the Coyote has become an indelible part of the Spurs franchise and a fixture in the Alamo City. Having won Best Mascot of the Year multiple times (awarded by his peers), he was named a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2007. Sporting his signature “2!” jersey (i.e. too excited), the Coyote can always be counted on to do something memorable – and he’s very amiable to photo ops!


 

Final Thoughts

While I haven’t been to every NBA arena out there, I have been to quite a few over the years. I find it hard to believe any experience could greatly exceed what’s available at Frost Bank Center. Granted, I am a native San Antonian and have been a Spurs fan my entire life, but I can look at things objectively when I need to. This is my favorite arena in the NBA and, if you have even a passing interest in the sport, you will need to add this as a stop on your bucket list.


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Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.

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