SAN ANTONIO – For nearly 15 years, the Alamodome staff has worked to cultivate a strong relationship with Mexico’s soccer federation to bring high-profile matches to San Antonio.
None has been bigger than September’s highly anticipated Mexico match against Argentina.
“Truly a collective effort on behalf of the city of San Antonio, the Alamodome and San Antonio Sports,” said Alamodome General Manager Steve Zito.
Zito took the reins as general manager last year after the departure of Nick Langella.
Zito and his staff began to discuss bringing “El Tri” back to San Antonio over a year ago, and put together an aggressive proposal.
Alamodome officials also worked closely with Soccer United Marketing, which holds the rights for Mexican National matches in the United States and the MexTour.
SUM also promotes the MexTour and the organization plays a key role in negotiating with opponents.
“Just having Mexico here was a tremendous thrill, then to learn that Argentina was coming. We got the email and were elated,” said Zito. “The demand, the ticket sales just totally escalated. Our suite sales went out of control.”
Mexico has played in San Antonio four times before, in 2004, 2014, 2015 and 2018. Each match has drawn large crowds.
The crowd for the Argentina match is expected rival that for the United States-Mexico friendly match in 2015.
Zito said the fan support has helped build trust for Mexico’s soccer federation to return to San Antonio.
“We just feel the future is so bright, with the following here locally, with a lot of our citizens from Mexico in this city supporting this event,” said Zito.
As newer stadiums and facilities have been built across the state and country, the Alamodome has remained competitive in attracting large scale events.
After hosting a successful NCAA Men’s Final Four last year, the Alamodome won bids to host the 2021 NCAA Women’s and 2025 Men’s Final Fours.
Being awarded the men’s event means more upgrades for the facility. The Alamodome went through a round of renovations and upgrades in 2017, with more ahead.
“Some of those improvements include replacement of the elevators and escalators and also the additions of suites to the club level,” said Patricia Muzquiz-Cantor, City of San Antonio Director of Convention and Sports Facilities Department.
Muzquiz-Cantor said Alamodome officials are working on a capital improvement plan and a funding plan for those improvements that will be unveiled soon.
“No property taxes or revenue from the city's general fund will be used to fund any of these improvements,” she said. “Funding for the capital improvement plan will most likely come from the operations here at the Alamodome and other related sources.”
“We’re always trying to raise the bar. We always try to maintain and be competitive,” said Muzquiz-Cantor. “And so those are some of the things not only for the Final Four, but for every other event that we hold here at the Alamodome.”
Other events include the Valero Alamobowl, UTSA football and non-sporting events such as concerts, the Home and Garden Show and other convention-based events.
Coordination with key stakeholders has been key to keeping the Alamodome in the mix.
“It has been greater than what we've had before in attracting these large scale events,” said Muzquiz-Cantor.
“We have really worked hard and continue to work hard to make that happen and create memorable experiences for lifetimes,” said Zito.