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  • Eric Moreno

AT&T Center – San Antonio Spurs


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

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


 

Championships & Fan Loyalty at the AT&T Center

(NOTE: This review took place during the 2020-2021 season; all ratings take into account the limited seating capacity and attendance due to COVID-19 precautions.)

As the home of San Antonio’s sole major league professional sports franchise, the AT&T Center has become a beloved institution in the Alamo City. Since moving into their new facilities in 2002, the San Antonio Spurs have built a legacy of excellence virtually unmatched in professional sports, stringing together 22 consecutive seasons of earning a trip to the playoffs.

This consistent string of excellence has led to six Western Conference championships and five NBA Championships (five and four respectively during the AT&T Center years) for the Spurs and their faithful fans. Under the direction of future Hall of Fame Head Coach Gregg Popovich – the third winningest Head Coach in NBA history – the Spurs have been bolstered by a string of current and future Hall of Famers during the AT&T years, including David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili, and Tony Parker.

With banners waving in the rafters and fans – normally – filling the arena to capacity each year, the AT&T Center has become one of the top stops on the NBA each season. This is especially true after the relatively recent renovations done in 2015 to upgrade the exterior and interior of the facility. Despite losing much of the 2019-20 and a good chunk of the 2020-21 seasons to the pandemic, the arena still holds up.

Food & Beverage 4

Under “normal” conditions, the AT&T Center would easily rate a 5 in this category; even still, with many of their food and drink kiosks shut down for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign, there is still a lot of great stuff to be found.

The old standbys – and the ones that draw the largest crowds – are still open and available to fans. Texas’ favorite burger choice, Whataburger, still has their full-service menu open on the main concourse. If you are looking for it, follow the crowd and get in the long lines that tend to form throughout the game.

Also on the main level is the brewpub/cantina Rock & Brews owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS fame. With a full line of beer on tap and a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and salads, this is also a popular spot, as it opens on the north side of the arena onto the Bud Light Courtyard. Attendees can stroll outside under the covered area with their food and drinks (adult or otherwise) for most of the game.

On the east end of the arena, on the balcony level, lies the restaurant offerings of celebrity chef Johnny Hernandez in La Gloria and Burgerteca. Hernandez has built a career on the back of bringing traditional Mexican cuisine to the land of Tex-Mex. Both have pared down menus, but what they do offer (including a full-service margarita bar) are pretty fantastic.

If you’re looking for more traditional stadium fare, there are still numerous other options throughout the arena. These include Pizza Hut stands, chicken fingers in the HEB Fan Zone on the west side of the arena, and multiple hot dog, popcorn, and pretzels kiosks.

As a note, for the remainder of the 2020-21 season – and possibly beyond – the A&T Center is completely cashless. There are contactless ordering sites as well as an app that fans can use during the game to get their concession needs met.

Atmosphere 3

If there was any area in particular where the pandemic’s effects were truly felt, it is in this section. The AT&T Center still has everything up that makes it one of the best arenas in the NBA. There are numerous spots on every level that have proven to be popular selfie spots: there’s an oversized Spurs logo near the main entrance to the arena, there are multiple images of the beloved Spurs Coyote, and multiple large murals for fans to stop to get their photos.

Also, near the Rock & Brews is the installation of the Spurs five NBA trophies and hanging from the rafters are the team’s championship banners and retired jersey numbers. There are also multiple team stores located throughout the arena, with the main one located adjacent to Whataburger.

All of that taken together combines for a good fan experience. However, with the lack of a filled arena, it does take away from the fun. The Spurs organization have done a lot to try to combat this, such as having cutout fans in certain sections of the lower bowl and piping in crowd noise. It is noticeable, but hopefully it won’t be for very much longer.

Neighborhood 3

This has been the one area where the AT&T Center has lacked over the years. The immediate vicinity around the arena is a mix of industrial and residential. With that in mind, there aren’t any dining or lodging options available to you for before or after the game.

However, what it lacks in immediate accommodations and options, it more than makes up for in terms of accessibility. The AT&T Center is located between both Interstates 10 and 35, which are two of the main freeway options that run through the city. Both also lead to the heart of the city’s vibrant Downtown area.

The Alamo, the River Walk, HemisFair Park, historic Pearl, dozens of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shopping options are all available to you within a 15-20 minute drive – depending on traffic – before and after Spurs games.

For dining options, let me toss out San Antonio staples Schilo’s, a traditional German-style delicatessen that has been around for over a century, and Casa Rio, credited as being one of the oldest Tex-Mex restaurants in the city. It’s picture-postcard perfect as it sits right on the River Walk and still has some of the best Mexican food in town. For lodging options, the Hotel Emma has quickly gained worldwide acclaim as a five-star boutique hotel on the grounds of the Pearl. However, there are literally dozens of other options for you, depending on your budget, in and around the Downtown area.

Fans 5

The Silver and Black have one of the most die-hard fan bases in all the NBA. This is due, in part, to the Spurs being the only major league professional sports franchise in the seventh-largest city in the country. Being the only game in town coupled with the team’s long string of success has bred a rabid group of fans.

Average attendance at the AT&T Center usually averages around capacity at 18,000 per game. This year (2021), capacity is limited to approximately 3,200 and the Spurs are averaging pretty much that for every game this spring. While there is a noticeable lack of energy due to the fact that the crowds are just a fraction of what they would normally be, the fans that do show up are still decked out in their Spurs gear and still roll out the “Go Spurs Go” chant as loud as they can.

Access 4

While not located in the “heart” of the city – aka the Downtown area – the AT&T Center is just a short 15-minute drive from there via either Interstate 10 or Interstate 35. Both major highways flank the exits for the arena and are clearly marked for those driving to Spurs games.

The AT&T Center is also a 15-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport, for those flying in. As you get closer to game time, there are just two main arteries off the highways to get to the arena, so traffic does start to become a factor, so keep that in mind on your visit.

If you choose not to drive, there are drop-off sites for ride-sharing services, but there is no public transportation option that will take you to and from the AT&T Center.

Once on-site, there are plenty of parking options. You can currently buy a parking pass ahead of time via the AT&T Center site or you can pay for one at one of the AT&T Center entrance gates. These, as with stadium concessions, are cashless. Parking passes start at $18.

Return on Investment 4

Single-game tickets for Spurs games at the AT&T Center start at $24 per person. This does vary based on day of the week and tickets are limited this 2020 – 2021 season. This is a pretty good bargain for a franchise as accomplished the Spurs are.

Concessions and parking are also pretty much on par with similar market teams in the NBA. You won’t break the bank at the AT&T Center, but it’s still a major league game and needs to be budgeted like one. This is especially true if you’re bringing the family and the young ones want to hit the fan shop.

Extras 4

Things have been scaled down quite a bit due to the pandemic, but there are still some of the Extras to keep the games fun while there are stops in the action. The Spurs still have their in-house deejay in DJ Quake. They also have their Hype Squad which performs during breaks, patrols the concourses, and has (during the pandemic) pre-taped halftime shows.

The true reason for the score here is the Spurs beloved mascot, the Coyote. While he too is limited to performing skits during breaks in the action, the Coyote still retains the moniker of being the best business. He is also a prime candidate for selfies when he’s patrolling the stands and interacting with the fans.

Final Thoughts

I can’t really count the number of Spurs games that I have seen over the years, especially at the AT&T Center. Each time it feels like a big deal to take in a game there. The Spurs do a great job of making each game feel special, no matter what time of the season it is. I think anyone attending a Spurs game will also come away with the same feelings of excitement and entertainment. Make your visit as soon as you get a chance and Go Spurs Go!

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

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