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AT&T Center

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AT&T Center
AT&T Center logo
AT&T Center
Arial view of the arena entrance.
Location: 1 AT&T Center Parkway
San Antonio, Texas 78219
Former names: SBC Center (2002-2005)
Owner: Bexar County
Operator: Spurs Sports and Entertainment
Capacity: 18,418
Construction information
Broke ground: August 24, 2000
Opened: October 18, 2002
Cost: $186 million
Tenants
San Antonio Spurs (NBA) (2002–present)
San Antonio Stars (WNBA) (2003–2014, 2016-present)
Floor design
San Antonio Spurs court logo
AT&T Center

A photo of the AT&T Center.

AT&T Center is an indoor arena located in San Antonio, Texas. It was completed in 2002 as the SBC Center at a cost of $186 million, financed by a local sales tax. The arena is home to the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA and the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL in the winter-spring, the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA in the summer, and the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo held in February. It seats 18,500 for basketball and 13,000 for hockey. The arena has 50 luxury suites. SBC Communications, Inc. purchased the naming rights to the facility under a 20-year, $41 million naming rights agreement with the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Spurs and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in July 2000. SBC Communications changed its name to AT&T, Inc. in November 2005 after its purchase of AT&T Corporation. The arena officially changed its name to AT&T Center in January 2006. The AT&T Center will host the WWE Royal Rumble 2007.

Planning

Previously, the Spurs played at the football-intended Alamodome, a multi-purpose facility with a configuration that allowed half the floor space to be used for basketball. Although the Alamodome was still relatively new (opening in 1993), it had become clear over the years that the Spurs were using the dome for much of the year, making it difficult to schedule contiguous dates for conventions or even a regular-season football schedule. Although seating capacity in the Alamodome made the facility one of the largest in the NBA, the Spurs and fans were not satisfied with the facility because of its poor sight lines for basketball and the cavernous nature of the arena configuration. Being primarily a football stadium differentiated the Alamodome from most other NBA facilities, including the Spurs' previous home HemisFair Arena. The Spurs management always considered the Alamodome a temporary, not permanent solution and if a new arena deal had not be made the team most certainly would have left the city.

Additionally, since the Alamodome opened there had been a plethora of new arena construction including facilities such as Conseco Fieldhouse, which in addition to offering an intimate atmosphere offered teams several new revenue generating opportunities including suites located on the lower levels as well as large club level seating areas.

The Spurs campaigned for several years for a new facility. The Spurs and the city had come to an agreement to build a new facility adjacent to the Alamodome, but in a last-minute reversal, the team partnered with Bexar County to construct a new arena adjacent to the Freeman Coliseum. As a part of the agreement the facility would be home to both the Spurs, a new hockey team and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Association's annual, multi-day event.

The facility would be funded through an increase of hotel and car rental taxes, and Bexar County voters approved the plan in November 1999. Coincidentally, the election was held on the same day the Spurs received their NBA Championship rings for their 1999 championship title.

Construction

After the arena referendum passed, planning quickly began for construction on the new facility. Naming rights were obtained in July 2000 when an agreement was reached with San Antonio-based SBC Communications to name the new arena the SBC Center. The agreement was reported to be for a total of $41 million over 20 years.

Ground was officially broken on the facility in August 2000. The arena's basic design was similar to many of the other newer arenas in the NBA, in no small part to the choice of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Ellerbe Becket as the primary architects. A nationally recognized, local architecture firm, Lake/Flato, was teamed with Ellerbe Becket to work on the design of the structure. Lake/Flato is responsible for introducing a South Texas vernacular to the overall look of the arena. Ellerbe Becket was responsible for the Conseco Fieldhouse design as well as the Washington Wizards' Verizon Center.

Memorable Moments

The Spurs began playing at the AT&T Center during the 2002-2003 NBA season, a season which saw the team win their second NBA Championship, defeating the New Jersey Nets in six games. The championship-clinching Game 6 was played in front of the sold-out AT&T Center crowd, who saw their Spurs rally for a 19-0 run in the fourth quarter to beat the Nets 88-77 and to send local favorite David Robinson out in style, ending his career on a championship note.

The following season saw the Spurs locking horns with their longtime nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Western Conference semi-finals. With the series tied at two games apiece, Game 5 at the AT&T Center saw one of the most memorable finishes in NBA Playoff history. With the Spurs down by one, Tim Duncan hit a fadeaway jumper over Shaquille O'Neal to give the Spurs a one point lead with four-tenths of a second left in the game. Unfortunately for the Spurs, Derek Fisher sunk a desperation heave at the buzzer to give the Lakers the controversial victory. The Lakers would go on to win the series and eventually advance all the way to the NBA Finals, only to be bounced by Larry Brown and the Detroit Pistons in five games.

Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals, the first Finals Game 7 in the NBA since 1994, was played at the AT&T Center, where the Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons 81-74 to win their second title in three years, both of which were clinched at the AT&T Center.

The Coyote

The Spurs mascot "The Coyote" has had his share of attention at the SBC/AT&T Center. In February 2004, the original actor behind the costume, Tim Derk, suffered a stroke that left him slightly paralyzed, meaning that he could no longer perform the physically taxing task of being the Coyote. At the Spurs first home game since that incident, the Coyote, portrayed by a replacement actor, came out and performed his usual act as normal, but after his first appearance that night, he held up a sign that read "Get Well Tim Derk", which sent the 18,000+ crowd into a long standing ovation. (Derk currently continues his work with the Spurs, though not as the Coyote.) On a lighter note, on March 16, 2005, The Coyote got ejected from a game when he "argued" a call, on the baseline. The ejection was mentioned on TV and on the radio but there was no announcement made by the PA announcer, leaving fans wondering why the Coyote wasn't appearing during timeouts. A few games later, the Coyote was given a full "pardon" by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Since their move into the AT&T Center, the Spurs have been a tough team to play at home. As of May 23, 2006, they have compiled a home record of 164-36 in regular season and playoff games, a winning percentage of 82 percent.

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