18 May 2009

the alamodome and bc place: how the mls is viable in san antonio

This is an article I wrote from Crocketteers.com, San Antonio's Premier Soccer Supporters Group.

One of the best innovation strategies in business is to do nothing. Sit and wait and allow those around you to innovate. Sometimes the smart companies pay for the R&D to make incremental changes to someone else’s good idea rather than paying the tremendous R&D to create the idea in the first place.

It is in that spirit, San Antonio, that I invite you to tour Vancouver’s BC Place with me.

As you know, Vancouver is going to begin play in the MLS in 2011. They will be playing home games at BC Place for the foreseeable future.

BC Place is a 60,000 seat stadium, whose current primary tenant is the BC Lions Canadian Football League Team. That is to say, BC Place is a 60,000 seat football stadium. Built in 1983 in part to attract a Major League Baseball team that never materialized, BC Place hosts trade and consumer shows (Boat Shows, Home and Garden Shows) and motorsports events (Monster Jam, anyone?) in addition to the CFL’s Lions. BC Place, though relatively busy, operates at an annual loss.

Sound familiar?

The Alamodome is a 65,000 seat stadium and is currently lacking a regular tenant. Built in 1993 in part to attract a National Football League team that never materialized, the Alamodome plays host to annual football games, trade and consumer shows, motorsports events, and annual marching band competitions. The Alamodome, though relatively busy, operates at an annual loss.

Once upon a time, the MLS had an agreement with the city of San Antonio to bring a team to the Alamodome, much like the deal that they currently have to place an MLS franchise in Vancouver’s BC Place. Politics quashed the deal as the reins of power changed hands.

Then, this spring, we get word that Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) is interested in bringing professional soccer to San Antonio, provided they have a soccer-specific-stadium (SSS). An SSS would bring in maximum revenue and the group made the statement that the economics at the Alamodome don’t work.

Perhaps we need to introduce our friends at SS&E to BC Place. Like the Alamodome’s long, lost twin, BC Place is not only viable for a profitable MLS team, but it is viable and it is TEN YEARS OLDER. BC Place will be undergoing limited renovations that will create an intimate soccer venue from a 60,000 seat barn. As you can see in the photo, BC Place would limit the seating to the lower bowl, integrate a centrally hung scoreboard, and project a visually striking image through the use of a translucent canopy that prevents the empty upper bowl from even being seen, giving a fan the impression and experience of a true European-style soccer environment.

The Alamodome could be transformed in much the same way. It could probably be done even cheaper than the work in Vancouver, thanks to the Alamodome’s relative youth. It could be done. And if the economics work in Vancouver, are we really to believe that they wouldn’t work here?

All of this to say one thing: San Antonio could host the MLS tomorrow. San Antonio has the population, the desire, the corporate base, and the facility.

All we need are leaders that will give it a chance. More on that soon…

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how this might affect your plan of attack for getting a soccer team in SA, but UTSA's recently announced football team, which will start playing in the 2010-2011 season, is set to play all of its home games in the 'Dome.