Why city’s best shot at new ballpark may not be downtown

The San Antonio Missions could be part of a shared-stadium strategy.

Efforts to replace an aging Wolff Stadium could take backers outside the center city. (San Antonio Business Journal)

SAN ANTONIO – The development of a downtown ballpark could spark ancillary development in San Antonio’s urban core, but after years of discussion and at least one study exploring multiple sites, the more viable home for a baseball stadium may lie outside the center city.

But even that could hinge on locking in a second tenant to share a stadium with the Double-A San Antonio Missions.

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Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who confirmed months ago that multiple groups were exploring sites near San Pedro Creek and at the former Lone Star Brewery, as well as in North San Antonio, now says the latter possibility may have the “best chance” of advancing.

In 2016, I reported that a study commissioned by the City of San Antonio and conducted by Barrett Sports Group looked at multiple potential downtown ballpark sites initially identified by a separate group, Brailsford & Dunlavey, as “tier 1″ candidates. They included land near Market and Alamo streets where construction is now underway on Hemisfair’s Civic Park, as well as acreage near Broadway Street and a site to the west near San Pedro Creek.

Assembling land near San Pedro Creek could prove a challenge.

And Wolff, who in 1994 spearheaded the development of the stadium near Port San Antonio that now bears his name, said infrastructure on the Lone Star site, including railroad tracks, could be a hurdle.

Meanwhile, a northern site, depending on where it is, could potentially draw UTSA’s interest as the university is working to improve its athletics facilities to bolster its move to the American Athletic Conference in 2023.

“If there was something to the north, obviously, that has a better chance for our participation and collaboration,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said.

While playing six college football games in the Alamodome has its advantages for a university not in position currently to build a stadium closer to campus, playing a full baseball schedule downtown would create logistical challenges for the Roadrunners.

The university’s involvement would be key in a North Side stadium project, according to Wolff.

“It would have to include UTSA to get public support,” he said.

UTSA officials have stressed that they want what’s best for baseball and San Antonio and are not looking to steer stadium discussions away from downtown.

“There’s a very strong effort downtown. And obviously, there’s a second effort that could be important that involves the North Side,” Eighmy said. “We’re just letting the process work its way through. We are available, depending on what gets worked out.”

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.

Click here to read the story in the San Antonio Business Journal.

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