Axios San Antonio

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🐫 Good morning, it's Wednesday!

Today's weather: Chance of rain in the morning before it clears up for a high of 85.

🛍️ Sounds like: "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Situational awareness: Uvalde police chief Daniel Rodriguez yesterday said he will resign effective April 6, following backlash over an independent report that cleared local law enforcement of blame for the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

  • Rodriguez was not in Uvalde on the day of the shooting.

Today's newsletter is 940 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Projecting the solar eclipse's impact

<span style="display: block;text-align: center;">Path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse</span>
Data: NASA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

In less than a month, pretty much everyone in San Antonio will assume the same position: necks craned up toward the sky to get a good look at the total solar eclipse.

Why it matters: As the largest U.S. city in the path of totality, the April 8 natural wonder puts San Antonio on the nation's radar, with the potential to bring a huge boost to our city's tourism economy.

  • Maybe it will be worth it when we're all massaging our sore necks the next day?

The big picture: Areas in the path of totality have been competing for attention from eclipse chasers traveling to see the solar spectacular — Northwest Arkansas, Cleveland and Indianapolis are all drawing tourists.

Zoom in: Visit San Antonio has been marketing the city to eclipse travelers for over a year, chief marketing officer Andrés Muñoz tells Axios.

  • The organization has run ads on social media and promotes its website on search results pages.
  • "We wanted to intercept folks and let them know that San Antonio is an option" for their eclipse travels, Muñoz says.

Hotels in San Antonio have an average of about 60% occupancy throughout a normal year. Visit San Antonio expects that number to be 80% in 2024 because of the eclipse.

  • Most hotels on the Northwest Side, where the view of the eclipse will be best, have already sold out, he says.

Reality check: While San Antonio hopes to see a boost, Dallas, Austin and the Hill Country might get even more travel traffic.

  • Austin and Dallas made Airbnb's recent list of popular and most-booked cities along the path of totality. San Antonio didn't, but the Hill Country at large did.

The bottom line: We're about to learn how much all the solar eclipse hype translates into real dollars spent in San Antonio.

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2. Standardized testing is back at UT

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Prepare to fill in those bubbles: the University of Texas is once again requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores.

Why it matters: The move by the state's flagship university is part of a national return to pre-pandemic admissions practices.

By the numbers: Last year, UT saw a record number of applicants, approximately 73,000.

  • Applicants who asked to have their standardized scores considered had a median SAT score of 1420, compared to 1160 among those who did not, per the university.

Zoom in: The University of Texas at San Antonio still does not require SAT or ACT test scores for admission. The university solidified the change for fall 2021.

The big picture: Testing has raised questions around equity, as data analyzed last year showed that students' scores rose alongside parental income, per the New York Times.

  • However, Dartmouth found that test scores are an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low- and middle-income backgrounds.

Flashback: UT's adoption of standardized tests in the 1950s as part of a selective admissions policy was part of a move to suppress the number of Black students the university would be forced to admit, per confidential documents from the period.

Between the lines: UT's move to reinstate standardized test scores comes as universities grapple with ensuring a diverse class in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in college admissions.

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3. Inside the Loop

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

San Antonio police opened a homicide investigation into the Friday house fire that killed four people on the Southeast Side. (MySA)

🤝 U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents parts of San Antonio, yesterday launched a Democratic working group to address border security. (Texas Tribune)

🍽️ Local restaurant groups Suck It and Sari-Sari are collaborating to open a new restaurant on the Far West Side this spring that will fuse Japanese, Thai and Filipino cuisines. (SA Current)

4. Chart du jour: Visits to Missions fall

Data: National Park Service; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of visits to San Antonio Missions fell for the second consecutive year in 2023, according to National Park Service data.

Why it matters: Fewer visitors mean less foot traffic to surrounding businesses and fewer tourism dollars spent in the city overall.

The big picture: As the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, the five Missions — which include the Alamo downtown and the larger Mission San Jose on the South Side — are often touted as some of the main tourist draws for San Antonio.

By the numbers: There were about 1.18 million visits to the San Antonio Missions in 2023, the data shows — down from the 1.34 million visits in 2021 when the Missions rebounded from an early COVID-era drop.

  • In 2019, visits stood at about 1.28 million.

Zoom out: Across the country, visits to NPS sites were up 4% in 2023 from 2022.

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5. 🛍️ Tell us: Thrift shops for spring cleaning

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

👋 Megan here! I've been a dedicated thrift store shopper — and donor — for many years.

Why it matters: Bringing new life into used clothes, accessories and housewares is a fun exercise in style and good for the environment, as my Axios Chicago colleague pointed out recently.

  • Plus, it's often more affordable, and many thrift stores donate proceeds to great causes.

San Antonians have already started their spring cleaning.

  • On a recent weekend visit to a vintage yard sale in Highland Park, I easily came across half a dozen other garage sales as neighbors tried to make extra space in their homes.

🔊 Sound off: Where do you find your own treasures when thrifting about town?

  • Is it the same place you donate to when clearing out the closet?

📧 Hit reply and let us know. We'll gather the responses and share the knowledge.

Thanks to our editor Chloe Gonzales and copy editors Steven Patrick and Yasmeen Altaji.

🫢 Madalyn is excited to watch the "Love Is Blind" reunion tonight and will do her best not to spoil it for Megan.

🤫 Megan is hoping to avoid spoilers before she can watch the "Love Is Blind" reunion.