By Moses Leos III
The possibility of a professional football franchise making its way to this region could become reality.
According to a January report from FoxSports.com, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, son of the late Al Davis, allegedly secured a parcel of land halfway between Austin and San Antonio for a possible move. The land could be used to build a new stadium.
The Raiders, according to the report, are playing without a lease for a home stadium in 2016. According to a Jan. 15 report from ESPN, business mogul Red McCombs has said San Antonio would be ready and that he would be interested in investing if needed.
Adriana Cruz, president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP), said the news is “exciting” for the region and the community. A professional sports stadium was one of the targets within the GSMP’s Vision 2020 regional economic plan. She said the area between Austin and San Antonio is a “significant” population center and market.
While the news came “sooner than anticipated,” Cruz believes the attention it will generate is a benefit to the region.
In addition, she said the news could add interest for corporations that are looking into an Austin-San Antonio corridor that is rapidly growing.
“It is becoming more and more established that the corridor is one of the most dynamic in the country,” Cruz said.
But Cruz said interest for a stadium has only focused on the San Antonio area. She said it’s “preliminary” to say if San Marcos could handle a professional stadium, as it would require “thoughtful consideration” from area municipalities.
Talk of a football team possibly moving to San Antonio was intriguing for Buda Mayor Todd Ruge, but he also didn’t believe Hays County would be the right place for it. Ruge cited several factors, which included infrastructure issues.
The resulting growth that could occur could help the city expand its tax base. But Ruge was concerned about financing of a stadium if it is built closer to the San Marcos area. Ruge said a privately financed stadium would be preferable over one involving Hays County as a partner.
“We have a county lockup that is overflowing and we can’t figure out how to finance that,” Ruge said. “The notion to give money to a billionaire for an NFL team … it wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said he wasn’t sure if Kyle would be “overwhelmed by visitors” if a stadium was built closer to San Antonio or New Braunfels. According to Webster, communities that are 15 to 20 miles from a venue such as a football stadium see a “bump” in the hotel and motel industry.
A new venue in the region could also lead to an influx in other events, Webster said, which could add to the benefit for nearby areas.
“San Marcos is a little closer and would see a little greater impact,” Webster said. “I think it’s mainly hotels and restaurants, for people that may be traveling that need a place to stay.”
Depending on the proximity to Kyle, Webster said the “greater the benefit it is” to the city.
“If the Raiders would come to San Antonio, it changes people’s sense of place and how they feel about the area,” Webster said. “It’s a cool thing to have.”