Football: With large bid, S.A. gets Big 12 to return
Web Posted: 06/06/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
Derrick Fox was savvy enough to realize that strolling mariachis and chilled margarita glasses alone wouldn't bring the Big 12 championship game back to the Alamodome in 2007.
The persistence of the MasterCard Alamo Bowl's chief executive officer — along with a check for the largest football guarantee in the city's history — helped sway the conference to return the game to San Antonio on Dec. 1, 2007, for the first time since 1999.
"We kind of understood that the bar had been raised and getting the event was no layup," Fox said after Monday's announcement. "It was kind of frustrating to have the big gap, but we want to definitely show them they made the right decision in 2007."
Fox said a sellout crowd of more than 65,000 would be needed to assure the city, Alamodome and bowl game would break even. Those three groups combined to underwrite San Antonio's bid that approached $3 million.
Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said San Antonio officials were competitive with other contenders in terms of assuring a sellout. Local organizers will be responsible for selling about 43,000 seats after the conference's 22,000 seats are subtracted.
"I think there was a real desire to see if we could get an agreement with San Antonio because it's been a good place for us before," Weiberg said. "Perhaps, that was a motivating factor. And as we have been through the bid process we asked them to step up and provide a significant guarantee. San Antonio was prepared to do that. It was important and a change from the past."
The Alamodome attracted sellout crowds for Big 12 title games in 1997 and 1999 — the first two sellouts for the event. The 1999 game attracted nearly 47,000 from outside the city, translating into $8.1 million of direct visitor spending and $19.8 million in indirect spending, according to a survey commissioned by UTSA's Tourism Research Center and Tourism Management Program.
Weiberg also was impressed with the city's ability to stage big events in what he termed a "state-of-the-art" football facility in the Alamodome.
"There was the ambience of the city, the ease in proximity for our fans, the attractiveness of the River Walk, the experience of the Alamo Bowl folks and the city's leadership," Weiberg said. "All of that was part of our consideration."
The conference also awarded the 2008 men's and women's basketball championships to Kansas City for a record eighth time. The men's games will be played in the 18,000-seat Sprint Center that opens in October 2007. The women again will play at Municipal Auditorium.
Weiberg said the conference was unwilling to go past one-year announcements in those sports because of pending television negotiations and other factors like Oklahoma City's first basketball championship in March and continued work on the 75,000-seat football facility in Arlington.
Conference officials repeatedly have said they prefer to rotate the football championship game between North and South locations as a way to maximize interest throughout the area.
Even with increased competition likely from the new stadium in Arlington, Fox said he remains committed to bidding for championship games at the Alamodome after 2007.
"We have a great city, and everybody enjoys coming to San Antonio," Fox said. "We understand that they desire to have the rotation. Other facilities might be bigger, but there are other ways to make up for that. We have to be equally or even more aggressive as the other cities because we've got to make up for our shortfalls."