SAN ANTONIO — As NFL football continues to dominate live TV broadcasts and the rumor mill for potential expansion continues to spin, Mayor Ron Nirenberg says San Antonio is well-equipped to call itself home to another professional sports team.
In fact, he says San Antonio – the biggest city in the U.S. with just one pro sports franchise, and the biggest without an NFL team – has never been more prepared for it.
"We are getting very close, or closer, than we ever have been to being a multiple-franchise city," said Nirenberg, citing the community's growing economy. "San Antonio has built a foundation that we’re going to have long-term growth and inclusive growth, which is something a lot of cities cannot say. So I’m very bullish on the future for San Antonio pro sports, and that includes professional football."
The data backs Nirenberg up. According to research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the economic outlook for the San Antonio/New Braunfels area has managed to bounce back from the pandemic to reach its highest levels since at least 1980. The local unemployment rate of 4.1% is also better than Texas as a whole, and hourly private-sector wages are trending up while the Lone Star State at large takes a dip.
"Broad measures of the San Antonio economy continued to be positive in February," concluded the bank's most recent report, from March 31.
The city's fan base, meanwhile, has shown it's ready to suit up for another team. Passion for the Spurs remains strong even as the team goes through a transition to a roster of younger players, and San Antonio turned out consistently to watch the Commanders play at the Alamodome before the plug was pulled on the Alliance of American Football League in that experiment's first year.
But the Alamo City might have intrastate competition to the north, where Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson recently made his case on social media for why his city should be home to a second NFL franchise.
"Football is king here," Johnson tweeted on May 5, in response to a prompt by NFL on CBS. "Dallas needs an expansion team and we would be able to sustain 2 @NFL teams better than LA or NY."
The Houston Texans are the youngest NFL franchise, having been formed during the 2002 season. Two decades later, the most recent movement has been the Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas, as well as an LA reunion for both the Chargers and Rams.
Speaking with KENS 5's Marvin Hurst on Monday following his return from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Nirenberg said the introduction of another San Antonio pro sports franchise is a matter of "when," not "if."
"I look at it this way: San Antonio is a sports city. We are a major-league city," he said, adding that it's also a matter of the right timing and ensuring that local leaders take advantage of the city's growth in a way that it "can be enjoyed by all of our residents."