Updated Feb 23, 2024 - News

Spurs stadium speculation reignited by land approval

A rectangular, beige building with the words "The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures" on it.

The Institute of Texan Cultures building. Photo: Courtesy of UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Recent approval to sell or lease the Institute of Texan Cultures' downtown property to the city has reignited speculation about the future home of the Spurs, although neither the team nor city leaders have confirmed a relocation.

Why it matters: The possible construction of a new arena and relocation of the museum could stimulate the downtown economy as a destination for leisure and entertainment.

Catch up fast: The University of Texas Board of Regents conditionally approved a plan to lease or sell the Institute of Texan Cultures property to the City of San Antonio on Thursday, according to the Express-News. The newspaper called the land the "likely site" for the highly speculated future home of the Spurs, stirring up reactions.

  • The meeting agenda described it as a "potential downtown revitalization project" but did not mention the Spurs or any sports team.

What they're saying: Even without confirmation, residents have been debating the move. Some took it a step further by drafting a widely shared but unofficial conceptual plan for what the downtown area could look like.

  • Some support razing the museum to make way for the Spurs.
  • Other residents involved in the ongoing debate on X, like Steven Delgado, said, "Nothing in SA (other than the Spaniard missions) gets a chance to become historic thanks to ignorant short-sided views like this."
  • "It's so mind-blowing that anyone who has been to a Spurs game to see the logistics of people getting in and out of there thinks this is actually a good idea," Delgado tells Axios.

City spokesperson Laura Mayes tells Axios said the regents' approval is not a contract to purchase the land, emphasizing that a decision has not yet been made.

  • She says the city is also interested in the property at 727 E. Cesar Chavez and 610-611 Indianola.
  • The interest stems from the land's proximity to Hemisfair and potential development opportunities, she says.
  • The Spurs did not respond to requests for comment.

Flashback: The Spurs originally played at the former HemisFair Arena before moving to the Alamodome.

  • In 2002, the team relocated to the Bexar County-owned Frost Bank Center (then known as the SBC Center). It was expected to spark an economic boom for the East Side, but that result didn't materialize.

Yes, but: The 56-year-old museum facility, originally called the Texas State Exhibits Pavilion, has been nominated and is eligible for historic designations. It was built for the 1968 HemsiFair celebration of the World's Fair.

  • However, a National Register of Historic Places listing is not a safeguard from demolition.
  • The museum has been considering downtown relocation options or renovations of the massive facility, Express-News reports.

The bottom line: The enthusiasm is likely spurred by the drafting of superstar Victor Wembanyama. Despite having one of their worst records in history this season, the conversation reflects the desire for a venue that matches the team's elevated, Wemby Era status in the league.

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