San Antonio – San Antonio hockey fans are feeling the ice melt beneath them this week, but will that drip down to other sports?
The sale of the San Antonio Rampage franchise to the Vegas Golden Knights means the AHL franchise will relocate to Nevada next season. The departure of another team begs the question of what that means for San Antonio’s other teams, especially the minor league ones.
The Rampage is the second team sold off by Spurs Sports & Entertainment in the last two-and-a-half years. The Stars, a WNBA team, was sold in 2017 and relocated to Las Vegas.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, one of local government’s biggest cheerleaders for professional sports in San Antonio, said he assumed the decision to sell the Rampage was an economic one.
Average game attendance this season has been 5,938 -- far below the AT&T Center’s 16,151 seating capacity for hockey games.
Wolff said he isn’t worried about the city’s crown jewel franchise, the San Antonio Spurs.
“But the Spurs, you know, are our team. The Holts have said numerous times to everybody they’re committed to San Antonio, and they want to build that franchise,” Wolff said.
“I think they still have another 10 years under their lease with a pretty significant penalty if they were to leave. So we do have 10 more years for sure, and we hope to be able to extend that as we go along.”
SS&E also owns the USL team, San Antonio FC. The city’s hopes of getting an MLS franchise appear to have been dashed with the addition of a team in Austin, though, and Wolff is frank in his opinion of the league.
“They’re not a trustworthy organization, and they lie a lot,” Wolff said of MLS.
However, the judge still believes there’s something to be done with professional soccer in San Antonio -- just in another direction, south of the border.
“I’ve asked them to really try to make that break with United States Soccer Federation, with the Mexican league, where we could have a franchise here,” Wolff said. “It’s a difficult thing to work our way through. But that’s one thing I’d really like to see them do, and I think they’re in agreement with that.”
On the baseball front, Wolff’s favorite sport, the Missions are looking for a new stadium now that they are a AAA team. However, there has been no solid plan as of yet.
Wolff said the team has been looking at downtown, though that may prove challenging.
“They may have to look at other sites if they can’t find something here. But we do need to build a new stadium,” Wolff said.
“I think if we could concentrate on developing a better soccer presentation and concentrate on making sure we don’t lose AAA baseball here, I think those would be the two positive steps for us to take.”