AUSTIN, Texas – The Spurs’ first game in Austin was considered by many to be a slam dunk as the team sold out and broke the Moody Center attendance on Thursday.
An announced crowd of 16,023 packed the relatively new arena on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai was among the thousands of Spurs fans in attendance.
“I’m all for the Spurs outreaching to Travis County and other parts they think they can increase their fan base,” said Sakai.
Sakai met with the Travis County judge to discuss the Spurs and the importance of strengthening the South Central Texas region north and south of San Antonio.
“I’m in conversations with the Spurs to see if they’ll make an outreach to South Texas. We have a lot of fans there, and there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s the right thing to do,” said Sakai.
According to Spurs Sports & Entertainment, an estimated 10% of yearly ticket sales for games at the AT&T Center come from people who live in the Austin region.
SSE is looking to build their Austin fan base, not to move up I-35 but to hopefully get more people down the road for games in San Antonio.
“This is another opportunity for us to continue to grow our brand, to continue to meet our fans and listen to them and learn in the communities that are important to us,” said RC Buford, SSE CEO.
“The Spurs are going to get various corporations within Bexar County, now within Travis County. Let’s get talking about how we can make our region stronger,” said Sakai. “We have to work together along with South Texas. That’s my commitment as the Bexar County judge.”
Under their current lease, the Spurs are allowed to play two designated home games a year away from the AT&T Center. NBA bylaws also allow the team to play in another location designated as a home base.
They also have to get approval from Bexar County Commissioners Court for extra “home” games away from the arena. The Alamodome was the site for one of those games this season.
The Spurs have not committed to playing more games in Austin beyond this season, but with a successful showing and another anticipated sellout on Saturday, Austin likely will remain on the Spurs’ radar for future “home” games.
“I know there’s concerns, but let me tell you, the Spurs are the best goodwill ambassadors for Bexar County. I’m making sure that Bexar County is going to be top priority,” said Sakai.
When asked about the potential for a new arena for the Spurs in San Antonio, Sakai said it’s “a long-term discussion” but added he does not believe the Spurs will ever relocate from the San Antonio area.
“We’ve got to make sure the Spurs stay in San Antonio. I’m not going to commit to anything (on an arena). I need to see a return on investment if we’re going to use any taxpayer dollars,” said Sakai. “The Spurs give so much back to the community. That’s why I believe the Spurs and their words by Peter J. Holt that they’re staying. I’m committed to the Spurs.”