Austin may have had its moment in the South Texas spotlight, but it seems that 2018 is the Year of San Antonio.
As our fair Alamo City celebrates its tricentennial and plays host city to the highly-anticipated NCAA Final Four tournament, 2018 will present a significant moment for San Antonio’s public image. As our city has grown and evolved tremendously since the last several SA tournaments (1998, 2004, 2008), this high-profile event is an opportunity to highlight and fuel the exciting local growth that has taken place over the past decade.
As the tournament swiftly approaches (semifinal games on Saturday, March 31st, and the final championship game on Monday, April 2nd), keep an eye out for these key ways the Final Four will impact San Antonio, TX!
Image of Hemisfair Park Courtesy of Vincent Yang
1. World-Class Entertainment
Think the Final Four is just for wealthy sports fanatics? Think again! In a brilliant stroke of community-focused strategy, the Final Four has expanded its event schedule to draw in more than just basketball enthusiasts. Most notably, music (and pop culture) fans will flock to the newly-redesigned Hemisfair Park for the March Madness Music Festival (March 30th to Sunday, April 1st), while sports fans will gather at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center for the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest (March 30th to April 2nd). More than just exciting entertainment options, these additional events have widely expanded the weekend’s fan base, perhaps accounting for the larger-than-ever predicted visitor influx (90k+ when the Alamodome seats only about 70k!).
2. After School Programs
Committed to “leaving a legacy for all communities that host a championship,” the NCAA is working alongside several San Antonio organizations to fund projects that benefit local causes. The most basketball-oriented of the bunch, the “i play! afterschool” program fuses sports with character-building and nutrition (and the added perk of some Final Four swag), serving grade school students in the Harlandale and San Antonio school districts
Image Courtesy of i play! afterschool
3. Venue Enhancements
Apparently, San Antonio plans to set its best foot forward for the Final Four Tournament. Seeing the major sporting event as the opportunity for a major renovation or two, the city has been in the process of upgrading several iconic local venues, including the Alamodome, Hemisfair Park, and the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center. The Alamodome improvements will include expanded concourses, improved interior technology, and an expanded seating capacity of 70,000 (almost double that of the 2008 tournament!).
4. Literacy Programs
It’s the March Madness...of reading? In an innovative, bracket-style challenge, the Final Four has been inviting local classrooms to compete in a literacy challenge called " Read to the Final Four" by accumulating “reading minutes.” Intended to inspire accelerated reading and increase classroom achievement, this competition will have a city-wide impact and provide students will access to digital books and reading resources. Plus, the winning school will score themselves a $5,000 library makeover!
5. Volunteer Opportunities
Looking for a way to connect with the local San Antonio community? The Final Four Tournament’s extensive reach will draw in thousands of volunteers interested in showing off our city to the major influx of tourists and visitors. From greeters to drivers to media and shuttle monitors, this will be an opportunity for many to gather and support the city’s vision. (Click here if you’re interested in volunteering!)
Image of San Pedro Creek progress courtesy of @agminc
6. Park Transformation
If you’ve noticed a flurry of progress in the construction along San Pedro Creek, you have the Final Four’s financial backing to thank. Working in tandem with San Antonio Sports, San Antonio Parks & Recreation, and Youth Empowerment Services, the NCAA has been a key player in the development of a new park that will serve both a neighboring school (Higgs Carter King) and the surrounding community. The new park will be home to a basketball court, soccer field, and walking trails, among other features.
7. Economic Boost
Curious about this one? Us too. In fact, the biggest hype surrounding the Final Four weekend seems to revolve around the higher-than-average projected economic boost the city will is expected to receive over that fateful end-of-March weekend. The most recent prediction (by economist Steve Nivin) estimates an economic impact of $185 million...almost a 400% increase from 2008! These numbers are estimated based on a high volume of visitors (over 90k), and their inevitable spending on everything from hotels to dining.
8. Strong City Identity
Economic benefits aside, perhaps the most evident (and difficult to quantify) impact of the Final Four lies in the inevitable surge in city pride. As a city that has grown and evolved tremendously over the past decade, this national spotlight will be San Antonio’s chance to debut its shiny new chops. As tourists stream into the city streets, we hope that their Instagram stories and Facebook posts will reflect a new take on San Antonio: because, from Southtown to the Pearl, our city is so much more than just the River Walk.
A veritable “aligning of the stars” moment for our fair Alamo City, 2018 will usher in a new era for San Antonio. From enhanced literacy programs and new parks to a $185 Million boost and enhanced public image, it seems San Antonio is experiencing something of a South Texas renaissance...thanks (in part) to a boost from the Final Four.
As a group of agents absolutely obsessed with San Antonio, we want your Final Four experience to include the best resources our city has to offer. From finding the perfect Airbnb to exploring local hidden gems and finding the perfect brunch spot, let us help you explore our neighborhood. We will warn you, though...you may just find yourself falling in love with the Alamo City. If this happens, we’ll be more than happy to connect you with a lender, provide you with exclusive resources, and show yo u around our wonderful town.