On the heels of the NBA’s successful “bubble” season at Disney World, a semi-professional developmental football league is making the Alamodome the base of its own bubble for the next five weeks.
The six teams that make up The Spring League started practice on Monday at the Alamodome and will play their entire season there beginning later this month.
While in San Antonio, 300 players, coaches, and support staff will account for 7,000 total nights in local hotels during a time when San Antonio’s hospitality industry has been restrained by the pandemic.
“The key reason we chose San Antonio is that the market here has shown through history to be very supportive of professional football,” said Brian Woods, CEO of The Spring League and a former commissioner of the FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League). “So we’re not looking at this partnership with the city and the Alamodome as a one-season sort of operation. We’re hoping to return next spring and every year.”
In a year when the pandemic has turned sports calendar upside down, The Spring League is taking the field in the fall, amid college and NFL football. The first matchup in the 12-game format is Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. between the Alphas and Blues. A championship game will be played during the week of Nov. 23. Tickets are available through the Alamodome box office. It wasn’t immediately clear how many tickets would be available for each game.
Games will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights through Nov. 23.
Two Alphas players were on the University of the Incarnate Word football roster – Kam Williams and Silas Stewart. Another former UIW player is on the League’s Jousters team: Joseph Zema.
Established in 2017, The Spring League’s inaugural season took place at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and the following two seasons were held in Austin. This year’s spring season, in Las Vegas, was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
The league’s format is designed to provide NFL scouts and team staff an opportunity to evaluate players in a real football context, according to the league’s website. The majority of players who participate in The Spring League have spent time on an NFL active, practice, or preseason roster.
The league may also benefit from the cancellation of the Canadian Football League’s 2020 season and the availability of some college players who either opted out of playing this season or whose conferences aren’t playing this fall.
“I think that it’s a great opportunity for guys to show what they can do, who maybe didn’t have the publicity in college, or whatever the case may be for each individual, and to play here at the Alamodome is going to be fun,” said Generals quarterback Bryan Scott in a promotional video posted to the league’s social media sites. “I know all the guys are pumped up to play in a stadium like this.”
League coaches have college or minor-league experience and all, except Jousters Coach Chuck Bresnahan, have head-coaching experience. They include Steve Fairchild (Alphas), Terry Shea (Aviators), Ted Cottrell (Blues), Jerry Glanville (Conquerors), and Bart Andrus (Generals).
The Alamodome is home to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners, who played their first 2020 season game on Sept. 19. UTSA’s next home game is Saturday against Louisiana Tech.