By John Whisler
A day after the Spurs won preliminary approval for a $4 million taxpayer-funded practice facility at the AT&T Center complex, primarily for the Rampage, an official with the organization emphasized the need for the structure goes beyond the minor-league hockey team.
“It will be a mixed-use, public facility,” Spurs Vice President Leo Gomez said Friday. “We hope to hold a variety of events there that will complement all our partners on the property.”
Those events, Gomez said, range from youth hockey and basketball, to parties and receptions before concerts. The facility will also be open to public skating.
“Right now, we can't do any of that” at the AT&T Center, he said.
The Spurs Sports and Entertainment group, the holding company that owns the Spurs, Rampage and Silver Stars, wants to use part of the $24 million left over from the 1999 bond issue that financed construction of the AT&T Center to build the 35,400-square-foot steel structure.
Gomez said the Spurs hope to begin construction soon but that they have agreed not to seek reimbursement from Bexar County before 2013.
Thursday, the Spurs' proposal was approved by the Community Arenas Board, the landlord of the 175-acre East Side complex that is home to the Spurs and the adjacent Joe Freeman Coliseum.
But Gomez said it still must be approved by the Bexar County Commissioners Court and the AT&T Center's other tenant, the San Antonio Livestock Exposition (SALE) — which operates the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
The Spurs and the Livestock Exposition have not come to an agreement on the site of the structure.
Gomez said wherever the facility lands, it needs to be a “short walk” from the AT&T Center.
Meanwhile, Rampage coach Greg Ireland was ecstatic over the proposed facility.
He said the team currently leases a rink at the Ice & Golf Center at Northwoods for practice when the AT&T Center is not available but that having their own facility would be a big boost.
“This way, we wouldn't have to be hauling our equipment back and forth,” he said.
Ireland said the facility also would serve as a major tool in promoting the sport to the youth of San Antonio. Proposed facility wouldn't only be used by Rampage