Spurs celebrate triumphant 50th anniversary celebration at Alamodome with NBA attendance record

Spurs celebrate triumphant 50th anniversary celebration at Alamodome with NBA attendance record

Spurs celebrate triumphant 50th anniversary celebration at Alamodome with NBA attendance record

The Spurs broke an NBA record on Friday with 68,323 fans visiting the Alamodome, marking the largest crowd in regular season history!

SAN ANTONIO- “Home in the Dome” signage greeted thousands walking through the maze of stone walkways leading to the gates of the cavernous Alamodome.

Once inside, viewers found surprises seemingly around every corner.

As an NBA game unfolded below on what looked like a small rectangle of hardwood neatly nestled in a vast hollow, the nostalgia-soaked celebration began everywhere else inside the building. San Antonio hosted its first NBA contest inside the Alamodome since leaving the site after the 2001-02 season, losing 144-113 on Friday to the visiting Golden State Warriors while smashing the attendance record of the league with 68,323 spectators for the occasion.

β€œThe fans had fun even though we received our [butts] kick,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They seemed to be having a hell of a time, so there must have been a lot of beer sales there.”

Obviously, the result on the floor meant little, given the history and melancholy created on a special night in which San Antonio successfully executed the showpiece event of its 50th anniversary celebration. throughout the season. Soccer-savvy South Texas fans recognized it as they threw a cheery wave around the stadium with 10:32 to go despite the home team trailing by 27.

The 94-foot-by-50-foot wide dimensions of a fallen NBA court in the middle of a massive building configured to host football games don’t lend themselves to great sightlines to watch the action. The franchise knew it (which is partly why it now plays at the AT&T Center), as did the fans. But interest never waned for a game at the Alamodome, the team’s home arena when it won its first title in 1999, and the venue where Hall of Famer Tim Duncan made his debut in 1997, followed by eventual Finals MVP Tony Parker four years later.

The club announced it had sold 63,592 tickets on Wednesday, then announced the following day that it would increase the capacity of the Dome to 68,000 and release additional tickets for standing room only and individual seating with limited views.

Michael C. Wright reports from the Alamodome explaining how the mood built ahead of Spurs’ record night.

Fans gobbled it all up, and those standing-only tickets didn’t come cheap at $199 each. In fact, even the Spurs assistant coaches couldn’t find compensation tickets, which are usually plentiful.

So San Antonio fans showed up, making it clear they wanted to be in the building to reminisce and play a part in history more than they wanted to watch a struggling young team from seats less. than ideals.

The organization, meanwhile, understood the mission and showcased its rich history through the Dome, which was fully utilized on Friday. In the past, the club had cordoned off the ground from the rest of an empty arena with a massive blue curtain that stretched from floor to ceiling.

Not this time, which is how San Antonio got so many fans into the room.

Just outside the ground floor entrance, fans lined up outside the North West dressing room for the ‘Spurs dressing room experience’, which included a tour of a designed replica dressing room to emulate the team’s hauntings during his tenure at the Alamodome (1993–2002).

Murals of former Spurs from the team’s 50 years covered most of the hall walls, with enough photos of Popovich strewn throughout the Dome to make the coach joke, ‘Tear them down’. On one side of the Alamodome, near the standing room area that included 20 cocktail tables and a pair of heavily staffed bars, a display resembling a parade float featured life-size replicas of each of the five trophies. team championship.

Alamodome attendants gladly offered to take photos for fans wishing to pose in front of the equipment.

Parker circled before the whistleblower, waving to friends and fans, while Hall of Famer Manu Ginobili waved to the crowd in the second quarter from a box once Dome cameras showed his face on the scoreboard. Warriors manager Steve Kerr received a long standing ovation from the crowd after a welcome video showed highlights from his four seasons with Spurs, including the 1999 Championship.

Avery Johnson greeted the crowd from center court in the second quarter after a tribute video and standing ovation.

Hall of Famer David Robinson, who has already achieved a quadruple double in the Alamodome, addressed fans just before the start of the fourth quarter to officially announce that San Antonio broke the attendance record for all the time.

“Just being in the dome last night we had a glass of wine and connected with some of the former players: Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, some of the coaches,” Kerr said. “[Spurs CEO] RC Buford was there, family members. I think Spurs are the best team I’ve ever seen in terms of maintaining engagement with their former players and creating an environment that makes everyone proud to have been part of the franchise.

San Antonio did the same on Friday for fans in attendance.

The franchise’s historic night took nearly three years to plan, according to Casey Heverling, senior vice president of facilities and general manager of the AT&T Center. While tossing around ideas on how to honor the franchise’s 50th anniversary, someone at a brainstorming meeting asked, “Well, what’s the all-time attendance record for the NBA? ?”

“We did some quick research and came up with the idea of ​​hosting the game here and trying to break that record,” Heverling said.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Well, over the next three years, the Spurs worked with their own staff at the AT&T Center on the operations side, as well as the Alamodome host before finally bringing in the NBA, who had to approve the venue in making sure he was up to it. league specifications. Throughout the process, the team had to move its floor and ship special basketball hoops and scoring systems that arrived from around the world, including leftover equipment and technology from the team’s game in Mexico City in December.

They also built custom risers, decor and signage.

Perhaps the toughest challenge was creating the technology needed to access the NBA’s private networks.

“Nowadays, everything is on a network on the Internet, WiFi, all that stuff,” Heverling said. “Generally speaking, there’s a kind of 100% private and protected network that incorporates all the basketball arenas that the NBA plays in, including this one now. We had to make sure we could introduce that network here because it goes directly back to the NBA headquarters in Secaucus, NJ

β€œSo this thing: the score, the timing, the stats, even the broadcast, everything plugs into this secure network. So that was a big hurdle figuring out how to connect to this from a building that normally doesn’t.

Some of the major pieces of equipment arrived at the Dome last Friday, and on Sunday the team was installing auxiliary lighting, sound equipment and technology, “working around the clock” to properly prepare the Astrodome for it was ready on Friday when the doors opened at 4 a.m. :30 p.m. CST.

Heverling maintains “it’s no exaggeration to say that thousands of hours of work have gone into the planning and execution of this event.”

Hard work showed. The record has been set.

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Michael C. Wright is Senior Writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archives here and follow him on Twitter.

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