- Eric Moreno
AT&T Center – San Antonio Spurs
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
AT&T Center 1 AT&T Center Pkwy San Antonio, TX 78219
San Antonio Spurs website AT&T Center website
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 18,418
San Antonio Spurs – AT&T Center
The 2022-23 NBA season marks the 50th in the illustrious history of the San Antonio Spurs. Spurred on by Hall of Famers – and future members of the Hall – such as George “The Iceman” Gervin, David “The Admiral” Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, the Spurs were one of the most dominant franchises in the late 20th and in the early part of the 21st century. From 1998-2019 the Spurs made a run of 22 straight playoff appearances, taking home six conference titles and five NBA championships.
For the bulk of this run, the Silver & Black have called the friendly confines of the (currently named) AT&T Center home. Located on the near east side of San Antonio, AT&T Center has been home to numerous events, including the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, and several sports franchises, including the defunct San Antonio Rampage of the AHL and the San Antonio Silver Stars, now the Las Vegas Aces, of the WNBA.
Over the years, AT&T Center (which will be called by a different name in time for the 2023-24 season after AT&T’s naming rights expire) has undergone numerous renovations, including extensive ones in 2015. As the proverbial only game in town, the Spurs have cultivated a diehard fanbase resulting at nearly full houses at the Barn, as AT&T Center is colloquially known. Read on to learn what makes it a special place in the Alamo City.
Food & Beverage 5
The quality and variety of food offered at AT&T Center is absolutely top-notch. There is so much to choose from on every level of the arena that visitors are sure to find something delicious and satisfying, no matter their tastes. There are plenty of places to get traditional game day fare, such as hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, pretzels, etc., but there are also the anchor spots which have been here for years, such as Texas’ beloved Whataburger, Pizza Hut, and the popular Rock & Brews pub (which is offering up a special Spurs 50th Anniversary Cocktail this season).
As part of welcoming back fans this season after the pandemic, new food and beverage options were brought in to spice things up – many of these have a distinct international flair. One of the better food innovations that the Spurs have engaged in is the Community Kitchen, located on the balcony level in the H-E-B Fan Zone. This area features foods that are typical of the Alamo City, including a build your own taco and nacho bar. This year, a rotating group of local restaurants has also been invited to offer up some of their wares; each game will feature two from the group, including Singh’s Vietnamese, Kain Na Filipino Cuisine and Noodle Tree, The Sweet Spot, and The Beignet Stand and Cakes by Felicia.
Also new this season are options ranging from bao buns, barbacoa hot dogs (delicious, by the way), bulgogi bowls, gelato, and birria tacos. For beverages, on the plaza level fans can visit the Tended Bar for self-serve cocktails, while on the Terrace Level the Margarita Bar offers up craft versions of the eponymous drink. Also look out for the Texas Proud Bar, which serves up Texas-based spirits and cocktails.
The atmosphere at AT&T Center is pretty electric on game days. Fans begin showing up well before tipoff and are engaged throughout; more on them shortly though.
In addition to the fired-up crowd, the Barn has a lot to offer fans when the Spurs are in town. Virtually every nook and cranny of the arena’s walkways are decorated with art from local artists. Photographs, murals, installation pieces – some Spurs related – are all on display and are a feast for the eyes.
The rafters are bedecked with the banners touting the team’s impressive run of success. These include their five championship banners, as well as the retired jersey numbers of the franchise’s all-time greats.
On the plaza level, right across the walkway from Rock & Brews, an even more tangible representation of the glory years can be found as all five of the Spurs’ Larry O’Brien Trophies are on display, making for a perfect photo opp.
Also, right outside the doors of the Rock & Brews pub, on the southeast corner of the arena, is the Bud Light Courtyard. This open court area features a walk-up bar, firepits (one shaped like the Spurs logo), and a live-music stage, which frequently features big-name, popular acts performing before and after the game.
Located on the near east side of the city, AT&T Center is a short 10-minute drive from San Antonio’s vibrant downtown. Whenever they show the city on television, this is the area they are showing. Home to the Alamo, River Walk, and Tower of the Americas, downtown is the epicenter of the city, and is where most out-of-towners end up eventually.
With that said, the area immediately surrounding AT&T Center does not have a lot to offer visitors. This area is still a very industrial section of the city, so options are limited. In terms of dining, there is a relatively new option in BallHoggs BBQ – with brisket, ribs, chicken, and turkey among the options to choose from (don’t sleep on getting the mac and cheese as a side), BallHoggs is Texas barbecue done right. This place is hopping on game days, so take that into account when you visit.
Aside from that, you won’t find much beyond chain restaurants and food trucks anywhere for several miles. The good news is you are just that short drive from downtown with all of its myriad dining options, several of which are the best the region has to offer.
In terms of attractions, the property immediately across from AT&T Center Parkway is the Willow Springs Golf Course. One of the top municipal courses in the city, Willow Springs is open year-round and was the former home of the PGA Tour’s Texas Open.
Also, sharing property with AT&T Center is the Joe & Harry Freeman Coliseum, home to the San Antonio Gunslingers of the National Arena League. Their season starts in late April, so there is a chance you can double up on games if you plan your visit right.
For hotels, there aren’t much in the immediate area and none are close enough to walk from. However, there are quite a few that are less than five minutes away, including Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham San Antonio and Quality Inn I-10 East. With that being said, there are numerous options nearby and even more in the downtown area.
As mentioned, since the Spurs are the only game in town they have cultivated a rabid fan base here in South Texas. Even in the midst of a dreaded rebuild, the Silver and Black are still averaging close to 17,500 fans per game. The legendary fan group, the Baseline Bums, no longer reside along the court, but from their perch in the plaza level (near DJ Quake) they are still vocal and engaged and passionate about their Spurs.
In the crowd, you’ll see virtually everyone (unless Lebron and the Lakers are in town) decked out in silver and black, many sporting Duncan and Ginobili and Parker jerseys. This team is ingrained in the city, and fans are cultivated from a very young age. When the team is good, there is nothing like a game at the Barn.
AT&T Center is sandwiched in between two major highways in Interstates 10 and 35. From either of these, you can get to AT&T Center from any point in San Antonio in 15-20 minutes. These major arteries are also direct shots to Houston, Galveston (on I-10 East), El Paso (on I-10 West) and Austin, Waco, and Dallas/Fort Worth (on I-35) if someone was inclined to drive in from any of Texas’ other major cities.
It's a short 20-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport, which has flights in and out of the city to all points on the map at all hours of the day. Once on the road, the arena is clearly marked on both highways, and it is very easy to navigate to.
Once you get onsite, parking is plentiful in numerous lots on the ground. For those without parking passes, these will run you $20-$30. Many of the businesses in the area also open their lots on game nights and charge lesser fees. You can get a bargain if you’re up for walking a bit.
Return on Investment 4
Single-game tickets for Spurs home games at AT&T Center start at $25 per person. This is a tremendous bargain for NBA games. It’s also part of the way the team has managed to grow the fan base, but also to keep them coming during these past few seasons during a downward trend.
Concessions are a little on the high side, but you can still find bargains, including lower-priced fare at the Whataburger location. There is also room to save money on parking if you choose to park off site. It won’t be cheap by any stretch of the term, but when you consider the relatively low-cost ticket prices and the competition that comes in, it’s still a great deal to take in a Spurs game at AT&T Center.
When it comes to Extras, the Spurs and AT&T Center do a really good job of making their games fun for everyone. In addition to the aforementioned attractions, such as the live music in the Bud Light Courtyard, the art, and the photo opportunities with the championship trophies, the Spurs have other entertainment options for the fans.
The Spurs house deejay, DJ Quake (mentioned above), has a spot among the crowd on the plaza level – he spins the hits (or something like that) before the game and during breaks in the action.
Like many NBA teams, the Spurs retired their former dance team a few years ago and brought in a co-ed spirit group to keep the crowds entertained during breaks in the action. The Spurs Hype Squad is made up of gymnasts, tumblers, and dancers; they patrol the stands and interact with fans when not on the court.
Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs
The main draw in the Extras column is the world-famous Spurs Coyote. In my opinion, he’s the best mascot in the business and is truly beloved in the Alamo City. Whether he’s cosplaying as various superheroes, swatting flying rodents from the court, or generally getting the crowd riled up, the Coyote is an Alamo City institution.
Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs
I cannot count how many games that I have attended at AT&T Center over the years. I have always enjoyed my time, especially during the halcyon days of Spurs greatness. It still feels special to take in a game at the Barn. For the history alone, I think any sports fan should take in a Spurs game – the atmosphere is great, the arena still sparkles, and one day the Spurs will rise again.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.