The No. 16 UTSA Roadrunners (8-0, 4-0 C-USA) have enjoyed an unprecedented level of success this season. With interest in the program at an all-time high, recent conversations have occurred regarding whether or not the university should consider constructing an on-campus stadium. Two years ago, I wrote a commentary saying that the university should do so as the Alamodome was holding the program back. Times have changed, however, and I now believe that the university should remain at the Alamodome for the foreseeable future.
There are a few different reasons why my mind has changed. Originally, one of the reasons I felt we should move to an on-campus stadium was that despite being a large 64,000 seat stadium, the Alamodome sat mostly empty. The student section was barren, and you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. It is funny what winning can do, though. Since Traylor has taken over as the head coach, attendance has steadily risen at the Alamodome and revealed the fact that UTSA enjoys a solid home field advantage. When the Alamodome is full of fans, the crowd noise is loud, the energy is infectious and the atmosphere created playing in The Dome is unmatched. One of the added benefits to playing in a dome is what it does to crowd noise. In a dome, a crowd of 30,000 people sounds like 60,000. If an on-campus stadium was constructed, presumably an outdoor stadium, this effect would be lost.
Another major factor to contend with regarding an on-campus stadium is the weather. The Alamodome is temperature controlled to a nice and consistent 72 degrees every single game. An on-campus outdoor stadium, however, would introduce the elements into play. The prospect of an early September game in San Antonio in temperatures close to 100 degrees in the burning sunlight does not sound very appealing and may serve to drive away fans from the stadium.
Another important point to make about why the Alamodome serves as a benefit for UTSA, is that the university is not paying for any improvements to the facility. The City of San Antonio itself is constantly looking to use the Alamodome to attract big name national events such as the NCAA basketball tournaments to the city and upgrading the facility as a result of this. This means that the Alamodome is always up to date, something that not many universities can claim about their facilities. Most universities in the country must sink copious amounts of money into their own facilities in order to keep up with their peers. UTSA does not have to, and this allows us to use that money in other areas.
Finally, the most important reason why we should continue to play in the Alamodome and shun the idea of an on-campus stadium is simply a question of need. The Alamodome is currently one of the best facilities in Conference USA and will be in the American Athletic Conference when the university moves. In contrast, every other UTSA team’s facilities are in dire need of upgrades. With the move to the American Athletic Conference looming, it is critical that UTSA upgrades all of their facilities to bring them up to a standard expected of a NCAA Division I program. The Alamodome is currently the only facility that can be said to live up to this standard, so it does not need to be replaced.
While the travel time to the Alamodome from campus is regrettable, in the grand scheme of things it is not the worst in the country. Furthermore, the engagement with the greater San Antonio community matters just as much as engaging with the students.
As the university continues to forge a bold new path into the future, there is only one place that the ‘Runners should call home and that is the Alamodome.