Facilities Focus is on San Antonio MLS: Politicos

Toyota Field, San Antonio FC

Local politicians say their facilities focus is on a potential expansion of Toyota Field by 10,000 seats should a San Antonio MLS expansion franchise become a reality — and not a potential Triple-A ballpark.

Last month Elmore Sports Group announced that it was moving its Pacific Coast League franchise to San Antonio and Wolff Stadium, warning that this was a temporary venue during the pursuit of a new ballpark that meets Triple-A standards. (Wolff Stadium does not.) The move was made partly on faith — the faith that the city would at some point support public financing of a new Missions ballpark.

But despite some early words of encouragement, city officials say their emphasis is on attracting a San Antonio MLS team, which would require the addition of 10,000 seats — and, in this day and age, plenty of bells and whistles like social spaces and supporters spaces — to Toyota Field. The current San Antonio USL team is owned by Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the major sports-entertainment player in the market. With ownership of NBA, AHL, USL, G League and WNBA teams in San Antonio and Austin, Spurs Sports has a lot of local power. Hence the emphasis on helping the Spurs landing an MLS expansion team. And two local power players confirm the MLS emphasis, per KSAF:

“We have a clear path and a league that is expanding, so our focus is on Major League Soccer,” [Mayor Ron] Nirenberg said.

“Our primary objective here at the county is Major League Soccer,” [Judge Nelson] Wolff said.

In the past Nirenberg called a new Triple-A ballpark a waste of time, while Wolff has been generally supportive of the Missions. But now he’s stopping short of endorsing a ballpark plan:

Similarly, the Missions will also need a bigger ballpark to play AAA baseball. The Missions president said in June the team did not yet have a stadium development plan.

Wolff, who is the namesake of the Missions’ current home, said Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium could be expanded or a new one stadium could be built.

As to whether there could be city or county involvement, “I just don’t know that yet,” Wolff said.

A word of warning here: it’s hard for a public official to react positively to a pure hypothetical. It’s surely possible that Elmore Sports Group ends up proposing a fantastic ballpark plan that is virtually impossible to oppose. Meanwhile, the potential of landing a San Antonio MLS team is very real — and very easy to endorse.

San Antonio’s odds of landing an MLS team has been improving in recent months. Some of it is due to bids from other cities cratering (St. Louis) or on hold (San Diego), but much of it is Spurs Sports turning the USL team into a serious draw.

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