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Commissioner Calvert on keeping the Spurs in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert

The Commissioner’s Court voted 4-1 Tuesday to amend the non-relocation agreement with the Spurs to allow them to play one home game in the Alamodome, one in Mexico City and two in Austin at the Moody Center. Calvert was the only vote against the proposed pilot program.

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Calvert joined The Blitz on San Antonio Sports Star Tuesday afternoon to offer some insight into his vote and to elaborate on his plan to keep the Spurs in San Antonio.

“I’ve talked to everyone from CEOs, to the guys at the retail stores, to the lawnmower man, to lobbyists inside and they agree with my vote,” Calvert said. “A lot of people thinks it’s testing the waters. The most important thing for us going forward is to show some love to the Spurs … because the taxpayers have already put in $300 plus million into the AT&T Coliseum Grounds.”

Calvert said by “showing the love,” means something a little more tangible than being a fan.

“I think that showing the love means a new vision where we develop parking garages with housing on top, retail, office, restaurants so that you can go before and after the game. Give Spurs ownership first dibs at the ownership equity in that new housing, restaurants and retail.

We take the Willow Springs Golf Course and we develop it by an $80 million channel that could channel water out so it’s not in a flood plain. You can develop housing, restaurant, retail.”

The Precinct 4 County Commissioner said he believes the Spurs will be asking both the city and county for more money and a bond at some point in the future.

“I think the only way that it passes is if the average working person, let’s say 70% of the working folks, can actually afford the apartments, condos and whatever that are developed,” Calvert. “I think it shows the real heart of San Antonio to do things differently than some of the other cities where people were displaced … It’s particularly important at a time of average housing costs [are at $311,000] and it’s getting out of the reach of so many San Antonians.”

Calvert addressed rumors the Spurs may ask for a new arena and said that conversations on that topic have not officially began behind the scenes.

“Whether the Spurs go into the La Cantera property that the city and county invested a lot of money in, or whether they go in to the AT&T Coliseum grounds,” Calvert said. ” I’m a Bexar County nationalist and I want to make sure it doesn’t go to Austin or San Marcos. I want it right here in San Antonio.”

The Spurs are locked into the contract with Bexar County and the AT&T Center for another 10 years, and the conversation has recently been focused around naming rights for the the Silver and Black’s home arena.

“It’s not going to the be the Fred’s Fish Fry Center,” Calvert told The Blitz with a laugh, noting he hasn’t started any conversations over the naming rights but that it is a very important decision that has greater implications than may be first realized.

He indicated that it would not be wise to have the arena named after a business that is not contributing to the local economy and its ongoing development.

“There’s new money, there’s new corporations, there’s new people,” Calvert said. “I think that we need to have a search for the newer, younger money. … We’ve got to have a rejuvenated effort so that the ownership group has San Antonio’s best interests at heart.”

At the end of the day, the San Antonio Spurs and the NBA are a business, Calvert said. This poses a problem when corporate dollars are needed to stay competitive with other prominent markets, like Austin.

Calvert explained that keeping San Antonio economically competitive is the key to keeping the Spurs here longer term. He noted that San Antonio is considered a “walk up town” in the entertainment industry, meaning that people make decisions on events like concerts day-of because they do not have the disposable income to purchase tickets ahead of time.

This lack of disposable income is a symptom of a greater issue, Calvert said.

“So when we have housing policy where people can actually save so they can have disposable income … that goes a long way in improving everything people whine about, which is ‘Why don’t we have concerts and entertainment? Why don’t we have the flights that come here? It’s all about disposable income. We’ve got to improve that through education, job training, and a lot of the things that elected leaders need to get busy on.”

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