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Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 3:31 PM
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Tearing Down the Alamodome...(An idea revisited)

OK, this is an old article, from April of 2005.

I am posting it hoping to start a dialogue of how things are different today and to see how we react to these ideas now. I put in bold all of the specific ideas that I think could be revisited...

As far as a tear-down of the Alamodome...We all know that events like the Final Four do justify the dome's existence, so my question is this: In 5-10 years, when it is no longer sufficient to hold major money-making events (or when a new NFL stadium is built rendering the dome disposable), do we then consider tearing it down? And what would you put there?


Mike Greenberg: Remember the Alamodome as folly and then tear it down
Web Posted: 04/24/2005

San Antonio Express-News

As people age, their eyes change. Take, for example, Mayor Ed Garza.

When he took office, his "South Side balanced growth initiative" indicated a farsightedness that outdistanced his five predecessors combined.

Now, less than four years later, his backing of $6.5 million of inducements to put "major league" soccer into the Alamodome indicates severe myopia.

There's a smarter, more visionary way to invest $6.5 million in the Alamodome — a way that will have a much better chance of producing real economic benefit for the city.

Instead of foolishly giving away $6.5 million to keep the Alamodome on life support, the city should wisely invest $6.5 million to tear down the Alamodome.

This is not my version of Swift's "Modest Proposal." I am absolutely serious.

Everyone with any sense knew the Alamodome would be an economic folly even before the voters were suckered into approving a sales tax increase to pay for it. History has justified the cynics.

The building has no value. It's a money-loser for the city. It will never be anything but a money-loser. As long as it's still standing, City Councils will be tempted to throw money at every sports operator with "major league" in its name. Today, soccer. Tomorrow, badminton.

The ridiculous fantasy of attracting a National Football League team to the Alamodome will never come true.

Austin will get an NFL team long before San Antonio does because Austin invests in public works and development projects that create real value and support real economic growth, not in useless baubles like the Alamodome.

In addition to its economic liabilities, the Alamodome is ugly and it has a stupid name. As any moderately attentive fourth-grader can tell you, there's no dome on the Alamodome.

Pardon me for uttering a heretical, if not blasphemous, sentiment: San Antonio should learn, for once, from its mistakes.

If the Alamodome has no value, the land under it, and under its mostly empty parking lots, is another matter.

That swath of land could generate property and sales tax revenues for the city. It could strengthen the downtown retail and office markets. It could enlarge the audience for downtown arts institutions and galleries. It could spread economic cheer and jobs to nearby neighborhoods on the east and south. It could help support an improved public transportation system.

But the Alamodome stands in the way of all that. The city should tear it down and pursue development partnerships with the private sector to create a high-density, mixed-use neighborhood in its place.

To maximize the potential of such a project, the elevated I-37 freeway, which divides the Alamodome site from downtown, should be converted to a street-level boulevard. (Yes, it can be done.)

With that barrier reduced, a neighborhood on the Alamodome site could mesh more effectively with the one being built on the old Victoria Courts site, as well as with HemisFair Park and Rivercenter.

A concentration of several thousand residents where the Alamodome stands could justify a demonstration light-rail line running west through the downtown core to the UTSA downtown campus, and east to the SBC center.

The Alamodome was a bad investment. It's time for the city to cut its losses. We can have a big glass of lemonade — if we're smart enough to give up the lemon.

mgreenberg@express-news.net
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 3:50 PM
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Actually the alamodome is one of the few money making arenas in the country. It is fully paid off, unlike the 20 year old superdome. The only costs to the city are utilities, and maintenance. It brings tons of people downtown for events, and it great to host events that are larger than the SBC center can hold. The only folly is that we never got an NFL team to play in it except for the Saints.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 4:19 PM
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Even with all of its problems, the Alamodome still manages to bring a lot of people to SA. The NBA All-Star Game, Final Four, Alamo Bowl, and many other large events would not have taken place here had the Alamodome never been built. Events with national exposure like this are worth, in my opinion, the money the dome loses. If UTSA gets football soon we just might find a way to use the Alamodome.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 7:17 PM
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I completely disagree with tearing it down. The Alamodome brings a lot of exposure to SA with events it does hold. And, let's not forget, when we do get an NFL team, they are going to have to play somewhere temporarily, until another stadium is built. That process will take 3 years. Take away the Alamodome, and you take away a bargaining chip for bringing in an NFL team. With no temp home to play in until another stadium is built (or alamodome upgraded), where would a team play in the interim. Plus as has been mentioned, the Alamodome is paid for, tearing it down would be stupid.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 7:59 PM
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I am not suggesting we tear it down today...

Look 10 years into the future. All of the major events that it is currently used for (Final Four, Alamo Bowl, etc...) will take place in more modern facilities, either in San Antonio or elsewhere.

So, maybe it's silly to have a discussion about what to do with a situation that may occur in 10 years, but the Alamodome is going to become obsolete well before it turns 30 (2023).

So, what should replace it? Arts facilities, high-rise residential, a commuter rail station?

Look at Houston and the Astrodome. Even that facility (the 8th wonder of the world) had a limited shelf life.

And the fact that it is "paid off" doesn't guarantee that it is still a good value. I once had a car that was "paid off", only it was so old that the maintenence to keep it running (competitive in the dome's case) was more than it was worth to me. That day is coming with the dome. What then? (Have some fun with it...)
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 9:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
To maximize the potential of such a project, the elevated I-37 freeway, which divides the Alamodome site from downtown, should be converted to a street-level boulevard. (Yes, it can be done.)
I like this idea.Would it be possible?
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2007, 10:07 PM
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Imagine the traffic. Why not just depress it under ground. You don't have to cover it either. Put in a lot of walkways over the freeway.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2007, 5:07 PM
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Keep it as a barganing chip for a temporary home to a future NFL franchise before a better stadium is built. Any team looking to move would need a reasonable facility to play in, in this case the Alamodome, before a NFL caliber facility was built. Sorry folks, Alamo Stadium wont cut it.

Other than that, we still have the Alamobowl, Final Fours, Men/Womens Regionals, numerous conventions and high school football games that keep the facility in use.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2007, 5:18 PM
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The light rail idea is fine and all, but you wouldn't need to tear down the alamodome for that-- and not to build residential space. You can easily build over the parking lots and create high-rise parking to cover the lost slots... as far as a test light rail line, that would more easily work if you ran it as a ring around the south part of town... ellis alley to vidorra to victoria to brackenridge high school, past blue star, around king william, and up to the west end of downtown-- so many underused rail lines there.

The alamodome is a multi-use space that makes a lot of money, and it's part of our signature skyline now
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 6:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coddat View Post
Actually the alamodome is one of the few money making arenas in the country. It is fully paid off, unlike the 20 year old superdome. The only costs to the city are utilities, and maintenance. It brings tons of people downtown for events, and it great to host events that are larger than the SBC center can hold. The only folly is that we never got an NFL team to play in it except for the Saints.
Interesting... Do you have a source? I think it would be cool to see a list of net revenue generating stadiums in the U.S.
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2007, 12:12 AM
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Isnt there a sufficient walk way linking downtown? I think the ALamodome is a top generating venue.It put San Antonio on the sports map and brought events that would have went elsewhere.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2007, 2:42 AM
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If San Antonio ever wants the NFL to take that city even half-serious, they would either tear down the AlamoDome or build a completely new NFL ready facility. We're having problems with the Superdome, in New Orleans and that is after investing several hundreds of million dollars in upgrades in the last decade. The AlamoDome is like a high school stadium compared to the Superdome. I'm not trying to knock San Antonio, I'm just stating the truth...we're learning our lessons in New Orleans. It's not going to stop until we build a brand new stadium for the Saints and we're learning it the hard way....no Superbowl for us since 2002 and none scheduled and every survey out there with NFL fans says New Orleans is the most popular destination for that event. The NFL doesn't care...we're getting no Superbowl in New Orleans until the stadium issue with the Saints is resolved. PERIOD.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2007, 6:00 AM
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^^I agree with you about NO, the Superdome is nice.....but won't keep the Saints in NO for the next 10 years.

The Alamodome was built for a potential NFL franchiser and of course, 14 years later it is out-dated. San Antonians are hessitant to build another facility without a team. But, I do agree with you....the Alamodome just doesn't cut it anymore....and there is no half-assing anything when it comes to building a NFL standard facility. Hopefully any potential team will find this facility a great temporary location.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2007, 1:34 PM
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Struggling Alamodome loses longtime director

Web Posted: 02/12/2007 08:38 PM CST

Melissa S. Monroe
Express-News Business Writer
After struggling to make the Alamodome profitable despite the loss of its major tenant in 2002, Director Mike Abington resigned Monday after 13 years.
"I've resigned for personal reasons and resigned in preparation for retirement and to pursue other opportunities at hand," Abington said, adding he plans to stay in San Antonio. "I leave with great feelings toward everyone and we accomplished a lot and we kept the dome in high standing. I'm proud of the staff and leave it in good hands."

City spokeswoman Di Galvan wouldn't say if the city was actively searching for Abington's replacement. She said city personnel at the dome will work under the leadership of Michael Sawaya, director of Convention Sports and Entertainment Facilities, with the help of dome Assistant Directors Jim Mery and Richard Karamatic, and Acting Assistant Director Scott Munson.

Abington arrived in the Alamo City in 1994 after being director of the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. At the time, he was among the 10 highest-paid city employees in San Antonio.

But after the NBA's Spurs ended their nine-year stint at the dome in 2002, it made even tougher the job of finding other events to bring in much-needed revenue to help with costly dome repairs. Abington was known for being outspoken about how the dome has struggled since the Spurs left.

On the Web
Alamodome

The dome is considered a loss leader for the city because it doesn't make enough money to support itself, but it attracts thousands of visitors annually. Its main sources of revenue have been facility rentals, food and beverage concessions, and various event-related fees such as parking.

Post-Spurs, the dome has been used for soccer matches, monster truck shows and consumer events.

It was formerly used for concerts, but the AT&T Center and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater have taken over as the city's concert venues.

The Dallas Cowboys trained at the dome in 2002 and '03, but a scheduling conflict prevented the team from practicing there in 2004. The Cowboys wanted to return to San Antonio in 2005, but a dispute over the dome's rent prompted the team to remain in Oxnard, Calif.

Mayor Phil Hardberger helped to bring the team back; it signed a five-year deal that begins this summer. But part of the deal was that the Cowboys won't be paying rent.

Last year, the dome had a sellout crowd for the Alamo Bowl, attracting 65,875 people. The South Texas Billy Graham Crusade, a free event in April 1997, had the highest announced crowd in dome history at 66,835, according to the dome's Web site.



Express-News sports writer Tom Orsborn contributed to this report.
mmonroe@express-news.net
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2007, 6:20 PM
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Quote:
Struggling Alamodome loses longtime director

The dome is considered a loss leader for the city because it doesn't make enough money to support itself, but it attracts thousands of visitors annually. Its main sources of revenue have been facility rentals, food and beverage concessions, and various event-related fees such as parking.
...
Mayor Phil Hardberger helped to bring the team back; it signed a five-year deal that begins this summer. But part of the deal was that the Cowboys won't be paying rent.
DOH!

So much for the theory that the dome is a money maker.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2007, 7:03 PM
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Tear it down, we all know it is the inevitable, and easiest solution to the money it is losing. Create a true urban neighborhood, connecting that part of downtown with the river walk would be great. The river would continue into Hemisphere, under 37 and flow into a man-made lake surrounded by mid-rise apartments/condos and retail. It would be a perfect addition to Sunset Station. The only obstacle would be the railroad tracks.

Build the NFL, if they ever want to come and not a penny sooner, a nicer stadium somewhere else. Like I've said before, they should build the stadium amongst all the abandoned warehouses on the west side of downtown.
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Old Posted Feb 14, 2007, 8:36 PM
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Tear it down, tunnel the downtown segment of 37, create green space over it, expand the convention center, build a new courthouse and new Texans Culture Museum on Lots A and B. Then turn the rest of the land/parking lots into what jaga stated, a true urban neighborhood that connects with Sunset Station and Saint Paul Square.
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Old Posted Feb 14, 2007, 11:10 PM
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Only if the new venue is guarantteed to pay for itself, building it and maintianing it. Way too much money has gone into that area already. Until there is a comprehensive plan for that area the city should stop all the wasted money they keep throwing in that hole.

Not that it cannot be done. But it would take a planning commission to come up with future plans for that area.

The stadium was built for NFL and for NBA. The city jumped so fast at at least getting it build that they made lots of mistakes. Time to stop wasting tax payer money and build something that is actually useful.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2007, 2:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmathis View Post
Tear it down, tunnel the downtown segment of 37, create green space over it, expand the convention center, build a new courthouse and new Texans Culture Museum on Lots A and B. Then turn the rest of the land/parking lots into what jaga stated, a true urban neighborhood that connects with Sunset Station and Saint Paul Square.
If TxDOT does rebuild I-37 would the citizens of San Antonio agree to pay to drive on it because everyone knows it will be a toll road.

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION (so don't yell and scream 'cos it's an opinion):
As for the NFL, I have serious doubts that SA will get a team. Los Angeles and Las Vegas will get teams first. League expansion is a doubt and there aren't that many teams that will move.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2007, 4:10 PM
NBTX11 NBTX11 is offline
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^^ Gotta disagree with you on this one. LA will definitely get the first team. But to think Las Vegas will get an NFL team over SA, I think is nonsense. SA would have to be the frontrunner for an expansion team. There aren't even any other cities mentioned other than LA, SA and Vegas. Vegas seems like they are going after an NBA team, with the Maloof Brothers living there and potentially moving the Kings there if they don't get an arena deal in Sacramento. The NFL list of potential expansion cities goes like this, imo, 1) LA, hands down. 2) San Antonio. 3) Las Vegas (might be #2, if not for the gambling issue) 4) Everyone else, and probably no one else.
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