The UTSA Football game on September 8th, 2018 was the second most attended home game in team history- so far. The “Defend the Dome” campaign, which launched prior to this season, featured Mayor Ron Nirenberg as a spokesperson and resulted in the UTSA S.O.S.A School Band marching down Houston Street to the astonishment of downtowners. And there was even a wedding ceremony during the game's tailgate event.
There’s clearly momentum for UTSA in downtown San Antonio. But this school spirit is nothing new. Just ask Austin Smith, a senior Chemistry major at UTSA and San Antonio native. He dons an eccentric orange suit for each game, a tradition built from his early days attending UTSA games with his dad.
Austin Smith poses for a pic with Rowdy the Roadrunner. Photo Courtesy of Austin Smith.
James Casiano was inspired to become "Blue Man" by his friend Austin Smith, a.k.a "Orange Man." Photo Courtesy of James Casiano.
Austin started to get recognized at games for his colorful outfit, even by opposing teams. That’s when his friend James Casiano, a sophomore Marketing major, decided he would be the blue man to Austin’s orange man. The pair now even dye their hair and paint their faces in the respective colors. “It was great seeing the dome as full as it was,” says Austin of the game versus Baylor, “When you get a big crowd in that space the atmosphere is a lot more entertaining.” Austin goes on to say that the best thing about the dome (besides the air conditioning) is the way the sound of the crowd is amplified by the structure. “Even the Coach for Baylor commented how loud it got on third downs,” adds James.
“The excitement and energy in the Alamodome was incredible,” comments Dr. Lisa Campos, UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, “From the tailgating in the lots, to the H-E-B family-friendly Rowdy Town to the enthusiasm in the Dome, people experienced a great game-day atmosphere. We plan to build from Saturday and invite all our fans to join us on September 22 for the game against Texas State.”
The UTSA Football game on September 8th, 2018 versus Baylor was the second most attended home game up to that point. Photo Credit: Jeff Huehn
These game day experiences will only evolve over time, explains Elizabeth (Liz) Burt, Director of Placemaking and Programming at Centro San Antonio. Centro and UTSA Athletics have partnered to grow pre-game festivities downtown to build buzz for UTSA and UTSA Football specifically.
“What better way to connect the Alamodome and Football than use the [UTSA] downtown campus as that rally- as that steward.” she explains. The vision includes a connection between the downtown campus and the Alamodome with Houston Street in the middle.
UTSA S.O.S.A School Band performs fight song on Houston Street before September 8th, 2018 game. Photo Credit: Keith King / UTSA Athletics
On the Friday before the game, UTSA Athletics partnered with Centro to activate Jefferson Lot on Houston Street with a pop-up tailgate. Downtowners were treated to a rare sight when the sixty piece S.O.S.A school band played the fight song while marching down the historic avenue.
A member of the UTSA Spirit Team performs a handstand at the UTSA Pop-Up tailgate on Houston Street. Photo Credit: Keith King / UTSA Athletics
“You saw people opening up their office windows and sort of come out of their silos-” Liz recounts, “visitors and locals alike stop and pause and go ‘What’s going on?’” Workers in nearby buildings and pedestrians stopped to record the display on their phones and enjoy the music, which included a sassy rendition of “Hey! Baby.” Moments like these demonstrate the potential of what game days downtown could look like in the near future.
UTSA Spirit Team takes the field during the UTSA vs Baylor game on September 8th, 2018. Photo Credit: Jeff Huehn
Right now on yourvoicesa.com, there is an open question for what people would like to see downtown on game days. Answers range from decorating with UTSA fanfare to outdoor beer gardens. Austin Smith [orange man] would like more fireworks, and James Casiano [blue man] added a slip n’ slide to cool off. Liz Burt’s vision for the UTSA and Centro partnership would be a parade (consisting of athletes, band, fans, etc.) marching down Houston Street prior to each home game. No matter the varied ideas, one thing is clear: There is passion in the community to make downtown a game day venue. A place not only to watch the game, but celebrate UTSA school spirit in the biggest ways possible.
UTSA President Taylor Eighmy has said “Great cities need great universities.” And in our humble opinion, great universities need great football.
So, what does the future of game day downtown look like to you?