News Party lines

NFL in SA? Stop the foolishness

It’s a trip down memory lane. Back in the late 1980s, Bubba wanted to build a football stadium. He wanted to build it on the taxpayers’ backs, and the hapless voters actually approved a 1/2-cent sales tax to construct the $180 million albatross on a contaminated plot of land east of downtown.

“Oh, wait,” said four-term mayor Henry Cisneros after the colossal sports stadium was finished and ostensibly ready for the NFL team that would surely occupy the Alamodome.

“I never said we would get NFL football,” Cisneros backpedaled, much to everyone’s chagrin.

Listen carefully next time, voting public.

No offense intended to the New Orleans Saints football team, which scheduled three home games here after the Bush Administration presided over the drowning of the Crescent City.

But Bubba wants an NFL football team. Any team, even the New Orleans Saints.

And the media is crawling all over Mayor Phil Hardberger, squeezing him to put all City business aside to pursue an elusive football franchise in the biggest little city in Texas.

Does anybody remember the mid-1980s, when the San Antonio Independent School District inked a deal with wheeler-dealer Clinton Manges, in which the new owner of the United States Football League’s San Antonio Gunslingers would install artificial turf in Alamo Stadium in return for its use for Gunslingers home games?

For a short time in the mid-1980s, San Antonio had its own professional football team.

Attendance was sporadic. Alamo Stadium remained — let’s be pessimistic here — half-empty during Gunslinger home games. Manges neglected to pay his players, and his relationship with the small band of local football fanatics soured. He packed up and retreated to his Texas ranch, and the San Antonio Gunslingers were history.

Alamo Stadium remained — let’s be pessimistic

here — half-empty during Gunslinger

home games.

The ugly truth was that San Antonio football fans couldn’t support the home team.

And it remains doubtful, despite Councilman Chip Haass’ heroic struggle to sell out Saints games at the Alamodome. Yes, he was singlemindedly engaged in this effort before the Saints charged onto the turf for its win against Buffalo in early October.

The sportswriters, and even one metro columnist who can’t seem to shed his penchant for writing sports in the metro section of the local newspaper, are frothing at the mouth, ganging up on Mayor Hardberger whenever he makes a public appearance.

“Football, football, football,” is the chant.

Bubba want football.

Not everybody has the fever. Hardberger should be saying the Saints would be welcome to relocate here, provided the city’s taxpayers don’t have to fork out some hard-earned dinero to make it happen.

One councilmember says if the New Orleans NFL team becomes the San Antonio Santos, it should be that organization’s or owner Tom Benson’s business decision.

It’s a happy novelty that the New Orleans Saints are playing a couple of home games in the ill-devised and even less-used Alamodome, but it’s doubtful that San Antonians in Districts 1 through 7 can afford to buy season tickets to basketball and football games.

Therefore, unless the residents of the more affluent Districts 8 through 10 can buy up enough tickets to keep the Saints in the black if they relocate to San Antonio, having an NFL football team relocate to the Alamo City is a very foolish idea.

Furthermore, it’s time for the media to get off Mayor Hardberger’s back and let him work on more important things, such as leading the City Council as it conducts City business, which, if you need reminding, is to provide fire and police protection, garbage collection, supply water and electricity, and keep the streets from crumbling into a network of potholes.

San Antonio Saints? Let’s just forget about it and enjoy their next home game in the Alamodome. Let’s stop trying to rob the Crescent City of its beloved NFL football team.

And, when the City is finally ready to host and support an NFL football team, in a decade or two, maybe, we should not call them the Saints. They should be called (thank you Clinton Manges, for nothing else), the San Antonio Gunslingers.

In the meantime, fellow news hounds, keep your mitts off the mayor. He’s got important work to do.

By Michael Cary