This rendering shows the proposed Tech Port Complex. Credit: Courtesy / Port San Antonio

Port San Antonio is inching closer to building a new facility that would house creative space, a gaming arena, a STEM museum, and showplace for local technology.

Short of securing funding for a planned 130,000-square-foot innovation center at the corner of Billy Mitchell Boulevard and 36th Street, the Port’s board of directors approved a resolution at its Wednesday meeting that sets the stage for development of the project.

The Port will contract consultancy firm American Triple I Partners to conduct additional design work and a feasibility study. Chaired by former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, the firm also is charged with designing and researching a second phase of the cybersecurity-geared Project Tech facility that opened last year.

“The continued transformation of the Port into a national tech center is critical for the economic competitiveness of the next generation of San Antonians,” American Triple I Partners CEO David Cibrian said in a statement. “The Port’s board and management team is executing on a vision that makes our city a national thought and action leader in cybersecurity, research and development, engineering, and high-tech education.”

Port CEO Jim Perschbach first unveiled plans to construct an innovation center last June, about two months after he was appointed to the position. Perschbach likened the concept to a “permanent world’s fair” for innovation where visitors can interact with the technology of the past, present, and future.

Past technology will be on display in the form of artifacts housed at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, currently located at another building on the 1,900-acre Port San Antonio campus. Technologists and creatives can craft new devices and software at co-working and maker spaces. Gamers can compete in professional e-sports tournaments at a 1,500-capacity e-sports arena and conference center. And the technology of the future will be on display at an industry showplace where local purveyors of technology will showcase their inventions for potential buyers.

“The future belongs to innovators, and in an increasingly connected world, innovations are grounded in making essential physical and virtual connections,” Perschbach said in a statement. “Our planned facilities are designed to do exactly that: connect people to educational paths, connect people to employers and connect those employers to a global marketplace. In today’s world, those opportunities are in the digital space – from securing networks and critical infrastructure to increasing productivity across a spectrum of mature industries such as transportation, medicine and advanced manufacturing. All of these sectors have deep roots in San Antonio and all can come together and participate in our growing innovation ecosystem.”

American Triple I Partners will determine the cost and timeframe of the project during a 120-day feasibility period. The process also will aim to identify funding sources for the facilities. One likely source is revenue from competitions and conferences held at the e-sports arena. Some experts believe the e-sports market will top $1 billion in the coming years.

Triple I’s bid to study the project’s feasibility came via an unsolicited proposal.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is a columnist at the San Antonio Report. A former reporter and editor at the SA Report, he currently works as a project manager for New York City-based Advance Local.