Alliance of American Football President Charlie Ebersol (center) greets officials, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg (right), upon announcing San Antonio's new pro team. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

When the Alliance of American Football announced its inaugural teams earlier this year, San Antonio was the last city added to the eight-team pro football league. Now the Alliance has taken its commitment a step further, choosing the city as the site of its league-wide training camp in January.

The league announced late last week all eight of its teams will come to San Antonio for a month of training beginning Jan. 4 and leading up to the league’s first 10-game season, slated to start Feb. 9.

The league is expected to bring 600 players with coaching and support staffs, likely swelling the total number of visitors to more than 800. Teams will trim rosters gradually over the course of camp from 75 players per team to 52.

A study by economist Steve Nivin estimated that hosting the league’s training camps could generate $8.8 million in economic impact for the city, said Patricia Muzquiz Cantor, director of the San Antonio Convention and Sports Facilities Department.

If all goes well, the league could come back to San Antonio for training camp in 2020 and beyond.

“We’re concerned about getting everything right and putting the best product on the field, but we definitely looked at the ability to do this as a long-term multi-year project,” said Tom Veit, the Alliance’s head of business operations. “That was important to us, too. We didn’t want to be in a place where … we can do this one year, but then it won’t work another year. We know that there is an opportunity for us to be in San Antonio long-term.”

League officials made several trips to San Antonio in June and July to visit stadium sites and hotels to verify that the facilities will be available and capable of hosting professional football teams for a month. Those trips were hosted by Visit San Antonio and San Antonio Sports officials.

Veit said San Antonio has “an abundance of riches” when it comes to football stadiums and practice facilities suitable for hosting the league. He also said there is more than enough available hotel rooms.

The league hasn’t yet announced which stadiums will be used for training because the details are still being worked out with the entities that control the different facilities, including  the City, school districts, and colleges and universities, among others, Veit said. The league also is working with its teams and head coaches to determine where each would like to be headquartered for the month, he said.

The City of San Antonio will submit an application to the State’s Events Trust Fund for reimbursement of local expenses. The State has four weeks to review the application and decide if the training camp will qualify as such an event and what amount it will qualify for in local expenses.

“We know what we’re spending, and we don’t share our exact numbers, but I will tell you it’s well into the millions of dollars,” Veit said. “You can kind of do the math on the back of a napkin and realize having 800-plus staff and players staying in hotel rooms for 30 days and all the things that we’re doing – transportation, hotels, eating. You’ll have players, [and] some of their families will come. I know the impact of what we’re spending is multimillion dollars.”

San Antonio’s new professional football team will play its home games at the Alamodome. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

While the Alamodome will be home to the San Antonio Alliance team during the regular season, it is unlikely the team will practice there on a consistent basis in training camp or the regular season. Veit said the league does plan to have some events at the Alamodome during the training camp.

Cantor said the City and the league continue to work on a lease agreement for the Alamodome to serve as home field for Alliance San Antonio games. Veit said he expects those negotiations to be done in several weeks.

“We’re pleased to offer all eight teams state-of-the-art training facilities and the city’s support as they work to build their teams’ foundation,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a prepared statement. “When The Alliance convenes in San Antonio for the month of January, we will see a positive economic impact for our great city, and San Antonians will have an opportunity to witness a new era in football unfold.”

The league also looked at cities in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, and California as potential training camp sites, Veit said.

San Antonio’s generally good weather conditions in January are appealing to the league, he said, but the Alliance recognizes there is always the chance of an extended cold snap or rain that would impact the entire league with all eight teams in the same city for a month.

“The ability to put all eight teams together, the advantages outweigh the risks along those lines,” he said.

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Kyle Ringo

Kyle Ringo is a freelance journalist based in San Antonio. He has covered business, college athletics, the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball for numerous publications and websites.