SAN ANTONIO – The Alamodome has a fantastic track record of hosting major events.
Think about it. Fans from San Antonio and South Texas have enjoyed some of entertainment’s great spectacles. Dramatic college football and high school playoff games. The NFL. The Final Four. An NBA All-Star Game and several Spurs championship finals. Boxing and wrestling. Countless major concerts.
In its nearly 20-year history, the Alamodome has seen just about everything… except baseball.
That changes next spring when Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers come to town for San Antonio’s “Big League Weekend.”
The Rangers play a two-game exhibition set against the San Diego Padres. The games are Friday, March 29, at 7:05 pm and Saturday, March 30, at 1:05 pm. Tickets go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, November 30.
The event was announced this morning at a press conference on the floor of the Alamodome. In attendance were officials from the Rangers, Padres, Ryan Sanders Baseball, the San Antonio Missions, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be playing in the first-ever baseball games in the Alamodome,” said Rangers President and CEO Nolan Ryan. “We appreciate the support of everyone involved from the city, the Missions and the Padres as well.”
Turning the Alamodome into a baseball facility is no easy task. Ryan Sanders Baseball, the group charged with running the event, has collaborated with AstroTurf – the official synthetic turf supplier of Major League Baseball - to build a 133,000 square-foot custom field for the Alamodome floor. AstroTurf is obviously rooted in Texas baseball, as the brand is named after the site of its initial use at the Houston Astrodome.
“AstroTurf is thrilled to see baseball in the Alamodome,” said Bryan Peeples, President of AstroTurf. “We are so proud to be involved with these two superb ball clubs and to be a part of this historic event.”
Other modifications include custom fencing, walls, padding, netting, dugouts, bullpens, foul poles and more.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before March,” said Ryan Sanders CEO Reid Ryan, “but we’ve got a great team in place and have the right partners to get there. This obviously can’t happen without the Rangers and Padres, but ultimately it was Dave Elmore and the San Antonio Missions that made this a reality. This market has been the Missions’ for over 100 years and we are grateful for Dave’s willingness to partner on the event. In appreciation, we’ve put together a lot of great offers for their fans.”
First and foremost, Missions season-ticket holders and suite holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the event. Big League Weekend and the Missions will also create programs to benefit local charities.
"This event is going to be a real treat for baseball fans in San Antonio and the surrounding areas," said San Antonio Missions President, Burl Yarbrough. "We are very pleased to help play a part in bringing the 'Big League Weekend' to the Alamodome. This will be the perfect way to showcase Major League Baseball with the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres and to get everybody ready for the 2013 regular season."
The Padres, who play in the National League West Division, are the parent club of the Missions. “We are looking forward to having the opportunity of playing in the Alamodome,” said Padres Executive Vice President/ General Manager Josh Byrnes. “Our organization has strong ties to San Antonio and we are honored to participate in such a unique baseball event.”
“Playing against the Rangers in San Antonio in this unique venue will be a fantastic opportunity as we prepare for Opening Day,” said Padres Manager Bud Black. “Many of our players taking part in that weekend will be guys who were on the 2007 and 2011 Texas League Championship teams and we’ll be looking forward to Missions’ fans having a chance to see them, and all of our 2013 squad, playing in San Antonio.”
With the configuration for baseball, the Alamodome will seat over 50,000 people. A sell-out or standing-room-only crowd would create the possibility of the largest crowd ever to watch a baseball game in Texas.
“We want as many people as possible to be able to witness this event,” Reid Ryan stated. “Although these games will feature two major league teams, we made every effort to keep tickets affordable and a great value for baseball fans in San Antonio and for those coming in from out of town.” Ticket prices will range from $10-$55, with an average ticket price of just over $25. “With over 50% of the tickets priced at $15 or under, this is going to be a great value for a lot of people,” Ryan added.
Ryan Sanders Baseball and the City of San Antonio have agreed to a one-year deal with two, two-year extensions. In addition to the two major league games in 2013, officials said there would be other events surrounding the games at the Alamodome and throughout San Antonio over the weekend.
Specific events, dates and times will be announced at a later date.
ABOUT THE RANGERS - The Texas Rangers Baseball Club has grown to be one of the most successful organizations in all professional sports under the ownership group Rangers Baseball Express, which took over in August 2010. Over the past three seasons the Rangers have the third-highest winning percentage and win total in all of Major League Baseball, and only the world champion San Francisco Giants have more playoff victories during that time. In 2012 the team set a franchise record with 3.46 million fans and also established club records with 38 sellouts and 59 crowds in excess of 40,000.
ABOUT THE PADRES - The Padres, who play in the National League West Division, are the parent club of the Missions. After a slow start to the 2012 season, the Padres were one of the better teams in baseball, producing a 42-33 record after the All-Star break. They were led by third baseman Chase Headley, who posted a .286 average with a career-high 31 home runs and a National League leading 115 RBI. Headley was the Texas League Player of the Year when he led the Missions and the circuit with a .330 average in 2007.
BASEBALL IN A FOOTBALL VENUE – The Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Boston Red Sox at the L.A. Coliseum on March 29, 2008. The game was held to celebrate the Dodgers' 50th anniversary in Los Angeles. The exhibition game marked the return of the Dodgers to their original Los Angeles home, as the franchise played there from 1958-1961 during the construction of Dodger Stadium. More than 90,000 tickets to the game sold out almost immediately in early February, prompting the Dodgers to open standing-room-only space. The total attendance was 115,300, the largest ever to watch a baseball game. The distance from home to the left field foul pole was only 201 feet and had a 60-foot high screen, while right field was 440 feet from home plate. Boston won 7-4.
BIG BASEBALL CROWDS IN TEXAS HISTORY - If you’re looking for something to compare the uniqueness of Big League Weekend to in the Lone Star State, you need to go back over 60 years ago to a game hosted by the Dallas Eagles. The Eagles set a Texas League attendance record when they drew 53,578 fans to their opener in the Cotton Bowl. The huge turnout was due in part to a brilliant promotion devised by Eagles owner Dick Burnett. An all-star old-timers team including Dizzy Dean, Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb actually took the field wearing Eagles uniforms. After pitching to one batter Dean and the other greats left the field and were replaced by the real Eagles.