As they've done so often in the past, the San Antonio Spurs are being proactive to generate revenue with their announcement on Monday. Like clockwork, some fans of the team had a complete meltdown.
Monday evening, KSAT's RJ Marquez broke the news that the Spurs were proposing to play a few regular season games away from the AT&T Center over the next two regular seasons. According to the proposal, they would play an international game as the host in Mexico City and another in Monterrey.
"The theory is that if they can get out and broaden their network, get sponsors, get people to buy seats, get fans to come here, that it would bring them up," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Also included in the proposal is the idea of the Spurs playing at least two home games away from the AT&T Center -- with some named options being Austin, San Marcos, and even San Antonio's historic Alamodome. Spurs CEO R.C. Buford expanded on the idea behind the proposal.
"We are committed to finding new, creative ways to purposefully engage and celebrate our fans from Mexico to Austin, continuing to expand our regional fanbase," said Buford. "We believe San Antonio is uniquely positioned from a cultural, geographic and economic standpoint to serve as the anchor for this region. San Antonio has been home for five decades and the organization will continue to innovate, positioning the Spurs to thrive in San Antonio for the next 50 years.”
On top of Buford's statement, Judge Wolff reiterated just how unlikely a move away from San Antonio would be anytime soon. “A team just can’t get up and leave. There are substantial penalties, to begin with. Second, the NBA has to agree to it. Third, there have been very few NBA teams moved around,” he said.
He also added there's a non-relocation agreement that goes through the 2031-32 NBA season that would result in penalties between $84 million and $134 million depending on when it would happen.
Spurs fans melt down over the thought of the team relocating
Despite everything I just said, there were dozens of Spurs fans who either didn't bother to read the full article or just didn't retain the facts.
One certain Twitter user, who I assume chose his handle of @JoshTooJolly ironically, simply couldn't let it go that San Antonio was doomed when it comes to keeping the Spurs:
Thankfully, some of the more rational, established voices on Spurs Twitter tried to talk fans off the ledge.
Local sports anchor Don Harris had several excellent points in his above take that aired on television.
"The easy take is 'the Spurs are courting Austin because they want to move to Austin.' Really? What if the Spurs are courting Austin because they want to survive in San Antonio?" asked Harris. "Even with winning teams, the Spurs had to be creative to compete. They where the first to draft international players like Tony and Manu. They extended Tim's career by inventing load management."
With attendance down in recent years, it's clear the team is feeling it in their wallets, which leads to ventures like this one. Expanding the fan base can only help engagement and incoming revenue, but it can be hard to change the minds of some people unwilling to listen.
Never mind the $50 million state-of-the-art training facility the Spurs are planning to build in northwest San Antonio. Forget the fact that several teams have implemented this exact strategy in the past, including the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers (as Harris points out). The Spurs had the audacity to have three straight losing seasons, they have no choice but to leave!
Give me a break.
I know full well this article won't change the minds of many who are set in their opinions. Many just have a natural tendency to gravitate to the negative sometimes. Heck, it even happened in response to this story you're reading now.
The bottom line is the Spurs are still very much beloved in San Antonio and still have fans around the world -- Mexico and Austin among them. The team hasn't been great over the last three years, and fans aren't showing up as much as a result. Let them find other ways to make money.
Take a breath, some of you. Not every development is the end of the world.