As the University of Texas at San Antonio’s football program enters its 10th season, it has a shiny new home to call its own.

Roadrunner athletes reacted enthusiastically on Wednesday as the $40.4 million Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence, or RACE, opened its doors for the first time.

“This feels like a hotel,” said tight end Leroy Watson. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” said quarterback Frank Harris.

The project first started in 2017 as a $2 million Roadrunner Foundation initiative to renovate the Physical Education building. However, the university’s board of trustees and UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos saw the need for a facility to consolidate various athletic department functions and enhance the school’s attractiveness to athletic recruits. 

RACE became a project that included $10 million in funding from the part of the 2017 municipal bond dedicated to parks and recreation. The bond money supplemented private donations and money from the university’s permanent fund.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg acknowledged that the “political process” was one of the most difficult parts of the initiative. 

“Let me remind everyone why this project succeeded as a public project,” he said. “It was coordinated with all of our other agencies, it increases our community connectivity, provides community access for regional and national destinations in sports, it leverages funds from other sources.” 

Public use of the facility will come in the form of sports camps and clinics.

The two-story, 95,000-square-foot building includes facilities dedicated to sports, health, and academics. A strength and conditioning center, a sports medicine center, and even a barbershop are situated on the first floor. Upstairs, there is a cardio terrace, athletics academic center, football team room, and numerous administrative offices. 

  • UTSA football players admire and interact with the new barber shop outside the men’s locker rooms.
  • Athletes and staff tour the new football locker rooms at the Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence (RACE).
  • University representatives and local officials cut the ribbon opening the Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence
  • UTSA athletes photograph the entrance to the Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence (RACE) on Wednesday August 4th, 2021.
  • UTSA Linebacker Tyler Lahmke tours the new in-ground aquatic underwater treadmills.
  • UTSA Tight End Leroy Watson rests his hand on his new locker at the Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence (RACE).
  • UTSA student athletes overlook the weight facility at the Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence.
  • UTSA student athletes tour the new facilities at the Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence (RACE).
  • The new weight and strength facility at the Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence at UTSA.
  • UTSA Quarterback Frank Harris embraces with fellow UTSA students at the opening of the Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence.

The center compares in quality to athletic facilities found at universities belonging to the nation’s top athletic conferences, said Campos.

“RACE will be the place where champions are developed: in life, in academics, and in competition,” she said. “This building is best in class in Conference USA … The facility will change how our students approach and live each and every day, maximizing their potential in training.”

The center will benefit over 350 student athletes who compete in NCAA Division I sports at UTSA, along with students who play club and intramural sports.

The UTSA Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence
The UTSA Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Riley Grunberg, a senior softball player, said she is excited to see what is to come for the university’s athletic programs. 

“While many may think successful athletes are built on the field alone, the real development occurs behind the scenes: in the weight room, the training room, and even at the nutrition station,” she said. “This facility provides all of it together in one place. … I can only imagine how impressed future student athletes will be.”

RACE’s completion marks the first in a host of UTSA building projects now underway. The university has a 10-year plan for its downtown campus, including a $90 million School of Data Science building coming in July 2022 and a College of Business building that has recently started construction. 

“UTSA is on the steepest of trajectories,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy.

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Polina Protozanova

Polina is a Shiner Editorial Intern for the San Antonio Report.