‘The NFL can’t stand by… and not at least consider it’ | San Antonio-Austin ‘collaboration’ may be best path to get NFL franchise, former mayor says

“You can imagine a stadium in New Braunfels or San Marcos” as part of a future plan for a team, former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros told KENS 5.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio has tried many times over the years to get an NFL franchise, but the city always has been left waiting for next time.

The Alamo City has been viewed as one of the leverage cities that pro sports franchises use to get new stadium deals in their existing cities. But how serious could the conversation ever get to land San Antonio its own pro football team?

Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros has always had plenty of thoughts on that very topic. I sat down and talked NFL with one of our community’s top ambassadors.

My first question to him: “Outside of all the Dallas Cowboys talk, what needs to happen for San Antonio to ever claim that they can be an NFL city?”

“We’ve had our moments,” Cisneros said. “I don’t think that moment is gonna come up again.”

“There is not gonna be an expansion in sight. And many people believe that if there is going to be an expansion, it will be an international city,” he said.

Cisneros believes San Antonio standing alone as an NFL city is off the table but he doesn’t think they’re entirely off the list.

“If they do come this way, and I think they have to, it will be a joint Austin and San Antonio metro kind of setting,” he said. “You can imagine a stadium in New Braunfels or San Marcos or something like that, that is the central Texas team.”

“And then there’s the age-old argument that the NFL never wants three teams in any state geographical area. Well, we know that doesn’t stand up,” Cisneros said. “There are three teams in California. Three are three teams in Florida. And there are three teams in New York State.”

Cisneros continued, “So I think in the end this comes back to the Jones family and the Dallas Cowboys, but there is going to come the day where the NFL can no longer ignore the San Antonio and Austin regional area. It is essentially becoming the next Dallas-Fort Worth if you simply look at the growth numbers.”

“We are 5.2 million now between Austin and San Antonio. That is gonna be 8 million in 2050, only 26 years from now. The NFL can’t stand by and watch a region of 8 million people begging for a team and not at least consider it.”

So do San Antonio and Austin like each other well enough to work together in that sort of joint capacity? There’s pros and cons to either side of that argument. Each city wants to independently sustain their own growth to attract future entities, but the NFL is an entirely different animal.

Cisneros sees it that way, too, for the idea of the league expending into the central and south Texas demographic.

“Austin and San Antonio need to continue to grow in prosperity and strength, but add another element, collaboration,” he said. “I think there are players in here. There is Dell Computers and now Musk in Austin. There are people. Once that notion of collaboration and cooperation begins to sink in and people see that there is great value in being thought of as a region, I think we can do the same thing in sports. We are clearly there from a market standpoint, from an economic standpoint, from a population standpoint, from a growth standpoint and from an importance to the country standpoint.”

Cisneros gave his thoughts and opinions on the Dallas Cowboys.

“I’ve often said the moment of the least amount of crime in San Antonio is on a Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys are playing,’ he said, laughing. “This is Cowboys country for sure, and I just don’t think as powerful as Jerry Jones is in the NFL that he’s gonna allow a team to come into, quote, his market.”

So that’s the question, right? The Jerry Jones factor, which is legitimate. But we saw it with the Saints after Hurricane Katrina. San Antonio showed the roadmap to being an NFL city. But the Dallas Cowboys understand what they have in the San Antonio market, and that’s not going away.

San Antonio is a “melting pot” city, and “America’s Team” still dominates the fan demographic in the city, but the question is always still worth asking. Would San Antonio fully support a new NFL logo in town?

“Absolutely,” Cisneros said. “I think given the opportunity, people in San Antonio would totally relate to their own team. I don’t know that they would ever be given the chance, but they would. Yeah, we know how to do it.”

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