The Alamodome is a 64,000-seat domed indoor multi-purpose stadium in San Antonio, Texas. It is located on the southeastern fringe of downtown San Antonio. The facility opened on May 15, 1993, having been constructed at a cost of $186 million. The multi-purpose facility was intended to increase the city’s convention traffic and attract a professional football franchise. It also placated the San Antonio Spurs’ demands for a larger arena.
The Spurs played in the Alamodome for a decade, then became disenchanted with the facility and convinced Bexar County to construct a new arena for them, now called the AT&T Center. The Alamodome’s regular tenants are currently the UTSA Roadrunners. Recent tenants include the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football and the San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League.
The facility is a rectilinear 5-level stadium which can seat up to 64,000 spectators for a typical football game and is expandable to hold 72,000 spectators. The stadium was designed to easily convert into a basketball or hockey arena. Converting the stadium for basketball and hockey takes 12–18 hours to set up retractable seating and installing the playing surface. In this configuration, typically only the two lower levels at one or both ends are used.
The Alamodome opened with 38 luxury suites and 6,000 club level seats. The original design specifications called for 66 luxury suites. However, since the Spurs were the only full-time tenant at the time, only 38 luxury suites in the north end of the facility were built. The footprints for the 28 unbuilt luxury suites were open floor space just behind the club level seats that surround the south end of the facility.
Events and tenants
The Alamodome is currently the home of the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners. Previously, it was home to the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA from 1993 to 2002, the San Antonio Texans of the CFL in 1995, and the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football in 2019.
The Alamodome’s ability to easily accommodate basketball made it attractive to then-Spurs owner Red McCombs, who had been looking for some time for a larger arena to replace their longtime home, HemisFair Arena. The Spurs moved to the Alamodome after the 1992–93 NBA season. They played nine seasons in the Alamodome from 1993 to 2002, including their first NBA championship season, which was played against the New York Knicks in 1999.
College and high school football
Alamo Bowl: The Alamodome is the site of the annual Alamo Bowl, which matches the second-choice teams from the Pac-12 Conference and the Big 12 Conference. The 2006 Alamo Bowl between the Texas Longhorns and the Iowa Hawkeyes was attended by 65,875, which set a facility-record crowd for a sporting event.
Corps Classic: The 2006 East–West Shrine Game was played in the Alamodome on January 21, 2006. The game is an annual post-season college football all-star game. For most of its history, the game has been played in the San Francisco Bay Area, at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium and at Stanford Stadium. In recent years it has been played at AT&T Park. In 2006, the game was played in the Alamodome, moving out of the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in decades.
Texas Football Classic: From 1999 to 2011, the Alamodome has been home to the Texas Football Classic, which kicks off the high school football season in Texas. Now in its 13th year, the event has expanded to five games, featuring prominent high school programs from across the state. Former participants include former Chicago Bears and University of Texas running back Cedric Benson, University of Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb, and University of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel.
Texas vs. the Nation: The UTSA Roadrunners football program began using the stadium in 2011. The Roadrunners set records for largest attendance at an initial game for a start-up NCAA college football program at 56,743, and largest average attendance for a start-up program’s first season at 35,521. With a total capacity of 72,000 for football the Alamodome is currently the largest football stadium in Conference USA.
Alliance of American Football
In 2019, the Alamodome was the home of the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football, with the Commanders playing the AAF’s inaugural game on February 9, 2019 against the San Diego Fleet. The Alamodome hosted each of the fledgling league’s four best crowds, averaging 27,391 per contest before the AAF was shuttered in April 2019.
The NCAA Final Four was first hosted at the Alamodome in 1998, Kentucky won the tournament. Then in 2004, it hosted when Connecticut defeated Georgia Tech in the championship game. It again hosted in 2008, with Kansas defeating Memphis. The Final Four returned in 2018; this time, the event used the current center court configuration mandated by the NCAA, where the game is played on an elevated court and all seating is utilized, allowing a crowd of over 70,000.
Due to San Antonio’s proximity to Mexico, the Alamodome has hosted Mexican soccer teams in various events since the mid-2000s in addition to American teams. The Mexican national soccer team first played in the Alamodome on June 19, 2004, in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, defeating Dominica 10–0 in front of 37,642 fans. Mexico returned on November 10 for an friendly against Guatemala, winning 2–0 in front of 22,000 fans.
The 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival held some of the first paid events in the Alamodome in July and August 1993, including the opening and closing ceremonies and ice skating events. The now-defunct San Antonio Dragons of the International Hockey League played some games in 1997 and 1998 at the Alamodome when its home, Freeman Coliseum, was unavailable during the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
After the opening ceremonies, the first major event held at the facility was Paul McCartney’s The New World Tour concert, which took place on May 29, 1993. The Alamodome has played host to music festivals, including Ozzfest. It has also hosted concerts to artists such as Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and many more.
On April 15, 2005, the San Antonio City Council voted to spend close to $6.5 million to renovate the Alamodome in an effort to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to the city. After the election of Phil Hardberger as the new mayor, those efforts were abandoned, though the approved renovations to the facility will continue as planned. The city administration and local business leaders have re-focused their efforts to bringing an NFL franchise to San Antonio.