As the sole big four major league franchise in San Antonio, the Spurs have plenty of bargaining power. From 1993 to 2002 the Spurs played their home games in the cavernous Alamodome which sat over 52,000 for NBA games. The problem though was that the building, which had been constructed in a bid to lure an NFL team to town, was just too big for a basketball team. The court set up in regards to the seating was just weird and half the floor area had to be separated and shut off with a curtain. Dissatisfied with the current arrangement the Spurs brass took the issues up with the city and 2002 the AT&T Center opened to become the team’s new home.
The AT&T Center is much more suited as a basketball venue. The arena is the usual multipurpose basketball/ice hockey/concert venue which cities like to construct in their downtown area and it has a capacity of around 18,500 when the Spurs play. Constructed at a cost of $186 million this is one of the few multipurpose arenas which was actually constructed for basketball first with hockey as more of an afterthought. The result is a venue which feels like a basketball arena more than most in the NBA.
In the basketball arena arms race a shiny new venue gets old quickly. That is why this summer the AT&T Center is undergoing a more than $100 million facelift to put it back in the conversation for the best basketball arena in the country. The new and improved arena will look different on every level this fall as the Spurs look to transition their on court dominance to off court extras.
Graphic via levyrestaurants
The most noticeable feature of the new and improved AT&T Center will be the 12,000 square feet of scoreboard display on show in the arena. As the Dallas Cowboys proved in the past everything is bigger in Texas and this monstrous display will help cement that claim. Along with the scoreboard the construction is expected to create some of the greatest seating ever to watch sports. The sight lines from the seats, both premium and standard, have been analyzed over and over again in a bid to make every seat comparable with the best in the house in most other venues.
One of the banes of fans watching sporting events over the last ten years has been the sheer inability to share their experience with their friends. Cell communication is usually subpar and when arenas advertise Wi-Fi it rarely, if ever, works. The AT&T Center however is installing 675 miles of communication wiring to make around 90% of the venue Wi-Fi compatible. For those who like to tweet about games as they watch this is welcome news.
One quirk of the Spurs relationship with the AT&T Center is that the team is forced on an extended road trip every February while the venue hosts the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The “Rodeo Road Trip” as it is known is something which the Spurs players have embraced, once setting an NBA record win streak on an single road trip, winning eight of nine in 2003. This road trip also helps prepare the club for their seemingly mandated playoff spot every year.
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