Convocation Center - UTSA Roadrunners
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Convocation Center 1 UTSA Cir San Antonio, TX 78249
Year Opened: 1975 Capacity: 4,080
UTSA Roadrunners – Convocation Center
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as an institution was founded in 1969. Located in the far northwest reaches of the Alamo City, UTSA spent much of its first few years of existence sans any major athletic teams for its students and alumni to cheer on. However, in 1981 they fielded their first men’s basketball team, and the UTSA Roadrunners were, pardon the pun, off and running.
Starting as an NCAA independent program, the Roadrunners steadily climbed conferences until they landed in Conference USA in time for the 2013-14 season. During their march up in competition, UTSA made the NCAA Tournament four times (1988, 1999, 2004, 2011) and the CIT tourney once (in 2018). The school has sent a smattering of ballers to the professional ranks, including a couple to the NBA in Derrick Gervin (brother of Hall of Famer George “Iceman” Gervin) and Devin Brown (who won an NBA Championship as a member of the San Antonio Spurs).
Both of those players have their numbers hanging from the rafters of the only home the team has ever known: the Historic Convocation Center. The Bird Cage, as it is affectionately known by fans, was built on campus in 1975 and has been the home of the Roadrunners ever since. Cavernous and utilitarian, the Convo holds a special place in the hearts of Roadrunner Nation. Read on to learn more about it.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one concession stand for fans to visit at the Convo – the cashless kiosk is located in the lobby near the main entrance. It offers up, pretty much, all your traditional game day fare with some nice, non-traditional options. This includes your hot dogs (Rowdy Dogs for $3.50 and chili cheese dogs for $4.50), nachos ($5.25), popcorn ($3.50), candy, and bottled soft drinks and water (all $3).
Also offered up are bottled beer and wine. Other items offered up are Frito pie and chicken and turkey wraps ($5 and 5.75, respectively). Frito pie ($3.50) is a pretty standard offering in this part of the world, and it is very much appreciated; the wraps you don’t typically find at mid-major college hoops games.
The Convo, as I mentioned, is pretty cavernous. The lower area/bowl is where virtually everyone who attends a Roadrunners game sits, leaving the upper area for media and a small VIP area for program donors and visiting dignitaries.
Two sides flank the court with one side used up primarily by students. That section can get pretty raucous and is where a great portion of the energy that permeates the game comes from. In terms of other atmospheric attractions, UTSA hangs the banners for all the teams (including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball) that have made tournament appearances, as well as the aforementioned names and retired numbers of their best players. You can also see the trophy cases chronicling UTSA’s athletic history, and you can visit a team shop located in the main lobby across from the concessions stand.
Also, thanks to the seating configuration, fans will feel right on top of the action, as there is very little separating them from the court.
The Convocation Center is located right in the middle of UTSA’s campus. It’s a stone’s throw from Roadrunner Field, where the Roadrunners baseball team plays its games – the two seasons don’t really overlap, but you could still see the field if you want.
As mentioned UTSA is located in the far northwest area of the city. This puts it quite a distance from the popular downtown area of the Alamo City and far removed from the Alamodome, home of the team’s successful football program.
While the Convo isn’t near the action in the heart of the city, where it’s located still has a lot to offer. Directly across the highway/street from the campus is one of the premier golf resorts in the country, the La Cantera Resort & Spa. The golf course, arguably the best in the region, was home for many years to the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open. There is first-class dining at Signature Restaurant and SweetFire Kitchen, swimming pools, tennis and pickleball courts, and the Loma de Vida Spa. It’s a gorgeous facility in a gorgeous setting and you don’t have to stay there to visit.
Also, within the eyesight of the campus is Six Flags Fiesta Texas, one of the city’s two top-tier theme parks. Home of such thrill rides as Batman: The Ride, Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger, and the legendary Iron Rattler, the park has games, shows, dining, and a water park all onsite. If you’re in this area of the city it is a must-visit.
For dining options, again, across the road from campus is The Shops at La Cantera shopping center. This outdoor venue is home to some of the best casual dining in the city; offered up for your culinary pleasures are Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, Bovino’s Churrascaria, and Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille (this is just a handful of what’s on the menu at The Shops).
When looking for lodging there are a few options in the immediate area; these include the Aloft San Antonio UTSA Area and the Comfort Inn & Suites Near Six Flags & Medical Center. There are more options in the area, of course, and you are sure to find one that fits your budget.
The Roadrunners averaged just under 1,000 fans per game last season. The program is in the midst of a rebuilding phase at the moment, and that has been reflected in the wins/losses in the record book. That’s a roundabout way of saying that, since the team and program have been down, so has the attendance at the Convo. With that being said, the fans that do show up are highly engaged and greatly add to the energy, excitement, and atmosphere.
Getting to UTSA and the historic Convocation Center is fairly easy. The campus is located between two major highways, Loop 1604 and Interstate 10. The campus is easily viewable from 1604 and the signage off I-10 makes it very navigable. However, if you’re going to a Roadrunners basketball game, I would recommend the I-10 route, as it’s the most direct way to get to the gym.
Going that route makes it a 20-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport. This is not bad, but just tconsider traffic Alamo City doesn’t have the traffic issues of some other major cities, but rush hour is still rush hour and I-10 is a major roadway.
Once you get on campus, the university has ample parking for visitors. On the game day, attendees can park in unmarked spaces in the Brackenridge Ave (BK) Lots 1 & 2 for free. Also, the city’s mass transit option, VIA, does have a bus that goes to and from UTSA, so if you don’t want to drive this is also an option.
Return on Investment 3
Single-game, general admission tickets for UTSA basketball start at just $10 per person – reserved seating is just $12, and courtside only $30. This is a tremendous bargain for a program that brings in some impressive out-of-conference opponents. It will be interesting to see how much the pricing changes once UTSA moves into the American Athletic Conference in time for the 2023-24 season.
When you factor in the free parking and the relatively low cost of concessions, you are getting a bargain at the Convocation Center.
For extras, the ole Bird Cage is a little light in this area. There are the UTSA cheerleaders, who perform along the baseline and during some breaks, and there is also the UTSA mascot, Rowdy, who patrols the baselines and stands.
Aside from some of the standard games played with fans during breaks in the action (musical chairs, half-court shots, etc.), that is pretty much it at the Convo.
As an alum of UTSA, I have seen more than my fair share of games at the historic Convocation Center. I fully know that there are more modern gyms and arenas across college basketball. There are even some high school gyms that have more to offer in terms of concessions and extra game-day attractions for fans.
However, I have always enjoyed my time at UTSA games. There is a certain charm to the Convocation Center, even if it is a little behind the times in certain aspects. I think if, for nothing other than the bargain of it, any basketball fan will enjoy their visit here – I wouldn’t put this down as a bucket list visit, but if you’re in the area, make a trek to the Bird Cage.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.