The City of San Antonio recently approved an agreement with UTSA that would extend the Alamodome contract between UTSA and the city until 2035. Under the old contract, signed in 2010, the Roadrunners would have played in the Alamodome for five seasons from 2011-2015 with an option for two more seasons in 2016 and 2017.
Following the success of the 2011 season, the city and school began talks about extending the contract’s expiration to 2035. With the decision by the city on Thursday, Sept. 6, the two-year option has now become a 20-year extension.
The old contract is still in effect; the year it expires will change with this new deal. This means that UTSA will play football off campus for the next 24 years.
That is the reality. Whether or not the students approve it or not we must take it as an opportunity. With this decision, the city of San Antonio is saying to UTSA and the surrounding community that the Roadrunners are the football team of San Antonio. Now it is up to the students to continue to support the Roadrunners in the friendly confines of the Alamodome.
The history of teams playing off campus is not new in the metropolises of the state of Texas.
From 1965-97, the University of Houston Cougars played in the Astrodome. In that time, the Cougar program grew into a national power in the old Southwest Conference thanks in part to playing in what was billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Southern Methodist Mustangs also played off-campus first at the Cotton Bowl from 1932-78, then at Texas Stadium from 1979-86. In that time, the Mustangs became a national power, first in the 1940s behind running back Doak Walker and then later in the late 70s and early 80s when the Mustangs returned to prominence.
The Mustangs are famous for getting banned from playing football for two years from 1987 to 1988 from the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) after the school paid student-athletes to play football there. The Mustangs would play on campus from 1989 to 1994 and then returned to the Cotton Bowl from 1995-99.
Currently, in Texas, only Baylor and UTSA play off campus, though that situation will change when Baylor opens a new stadium across the Brazos River from their campus in 2014.
With that history in mind, UTSA has an opportunity to grow into prominence like its football-playing brethren in Texas. With the Alamodome, UTSA has a facility on par with any in the state. The trick will be to consistently fill it.
Two days after the city council approved the extension, the Roadrunners won their 2012 home opener over the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions, 27-16, before an attendance of 30,416.
The fact that another 30,000+ came to see the Roadrunners play a Division II school from north Texas shows just how passionate the community of San Antonio is for football at the Bowl Subdivision level. The Roadrunners will have to continue to field a competitive team in order to keep up with the higher level of competition in order to keep the fans coming.
The new arrangement will allow the Roadrunners to grow into the Alamodome over the next two decades. It will provide a home field advantage for the Roadrunners and give the school a good facility with which to entice future students, not just from south Texas or the rest of Texas but from around the country.