‘We Want Football’ Mantra Doesn’t Cut It After Saturday’s fiasco

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 25, 2006

Mayor Phil Hardberger

Mayor Phil Hardberger

SAN ANTONIO — The 81st East-West Shrine Game took place this past Saturday and it turned out to be one of the better football games that the Alamodome has ever played host too. The problem is though is that it seems that the San Antonio public didn’t think this game was worth ‘going’ to. Ironic how this town believes that it is a great football city and yet when a game that truly is deserving of being a ‘sell out’ and that game is then shown to literally the world via ESPN, one has to wonder just where are the cheerleaders who wanted the New Orleans Saints so much? One guess where they are: sitting at home on their collective duffs.

The East-West Shrine game had an attendance of 18,000 and some change. There were numerous reasons why there was a low attendance but the Alamobowl’s Rick Hill hit it on the head when asked about this game’s success.

“Well we couldn’t ask our usual corporate sponsors after having so many games but overall, this game was a success with just four months of getting the word out.” Rick won’t say it but I will. The word here is priority. This city’s so-called football leadership doesn’t put college football as a high priority in the grand scheme of whatever so-called plan they think they are concocting to lure an NFL team here. These individuals have no clue as to why it is more important actually shore up televised games like the All American Bowl (high school all star football game), the Mastercard Alamo Bowl and now this game. What many even in the Sports Foundation circles are failing to do is educate the public why the afore mentioned games have a direct forbearance on whether the NFL will even look at allowing a franchise to move to this city.

Whether you believe it or not, San Antonio is a hotbed for amateur athletics. As many of you know, the NCAA loves this city for how the venues are spaced out for egress to and from hotel accommodations and that with the San Antonio Spurs constantly being on the national sports scene, broadcasting giants like ESPN, TNT and Fox look at how these ‘level b’ games are attended because they actually have a big say in where professional sports play a part in the landscape. The Alamobowl game is one of the highest rated games on ESPN not just because of it’s time slot, but because of it’s match ups. The All American Bowl has become one of the best games showcasing high school talent because it has now brought recognition to that level of play. So one would have expected that those in the know would have done everything possible to make sure that a game that has the kind of heritage that the East-West Shrine game deserves. Yet that did not happen and now serious questions about where the priorities of the new founded “football” are. Are the priorities to lure a franchise that could cost the citizens millions of dollars in the beginning or are the priorities to make sure that all levels of football get the proper support from the public that they richly deserve and need.

There is a serious indictment that needs to be levied to this city’s leadership on the importance of entertainment in this city. Sports, by all aspects of whatever level you look at, is nothing more than a form of entertainment.

Whether you are going over to O’Conner High School to watch the varsity volleyball team and you pay your $5 at the door in support of the athletic booster club, whether you go to one of the local universities in town and spend $10 on a game ticket to watch collegiate basketball, or whether you take in one of the four professional teams we have and spend more than that, the bottom line is that if San Antonio wants to be known as a ‘big time’ sports town, attendance to such games like the East-West Shrine have to be better. Believe it or not but leagues like the NFL do look at such things because they gauge just what cities will support and what they won’t.