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San Antonio Spurs to Break Ground on $120 Million Training Facility by October

Feature Illustration: Concept rendering of the Spurs Performance Center (center), the Human Performance Institute and medical office building (structures on right), and office building (left), and outdoor event plaza (foreground). Courtesy: USAA Real Estate and SSE.

UPDATE: 8-13-2021 to identify architect and details on scope of training facility.

Posted: 8-11-2021

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County)Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SSE) unveiled plans Tuesday for a $510.8 million training facility and medical office campus that is expected to break ground by October.

SSE executives in collaboration with US Real Estate LP, a USAA Real Estate (USRealCo) affiliate, presented the project to Bexar County Commissioners Court because they are requesting the county agree to contribute $15 million toward the project and accept a 22-acre parkland donation; US Real Estate is finishing construction on the park and SSE will maintain it.

The commissioners agreed to direct County Manager David L. Smith to execute the agreement. SSE and USAA are working on a similar agreement with the city of San Antonio; the county and city participation is needed, SSE executives claim, to leverage the private financing.

In addition, because there is a “soldier athlete” component to the Spurs development concept, the organization has been lobbying Congressman Henry Cuellar for a Department of Defense appropriation of more than $2 million.

SSE executive vice president and general counsel Bobby Perez told Commissioners Court that the appropriation had passed Cuellar’s committee, “and is part of the larger bill, and so in conversations with him this week he said it’s safe to report that it will happen.”

According to the resolution, the county’s agreement would be with “Arena Project Developer LLC, or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof” for the county’s $15 million contribution to the Human Performance Campus project.

County Judge Nelson Wolff identified the Spurs franchise’s investment in this project–primarily the training facility and Human Performance Institute–as $120 million and called it a great investment for the county.

On Aug. 13, the architect for the training facility filed a report stating the San Antonio Spurs Practice Facility would total 133,000 square feet. The building is to include a basketball practice facility, parking garage, office space, and training space.

ZGF Architects, based in Portland, Oregon, estimated the cost of the practice facility at $72 million. Construction is scheduled to begin Oct. 4 and reach completion by March 1, 2023.

Commissioner Trish DeBerry in whose district that project will take place, noting recent changes in the ownership’s composition, asked for assurances that the Spurs organization would not leave town.

Perez responded by pointing to the campus vision, saying, “This location right here becomes our home, and our place that we’re putting our flag in the ground for decades. With this support, we believe this answers that question.”

Perez said Joeris General Contractors is their lead contractor and Sabinal Group is their SWMBE. He added that they have been participating in the planning since early 2020.

Referring back to the concept rendering, Perez said their sustainability efforts include solar panel roof installations that will provide all power to the facility, and rainwater recapture.

“We have priced it out with mass timber construction,” Perez said. Joeris and Sabinal have been helping the SSE and USAA Real Estate team understand what the current environment is doing on pricing, he said, “but it’s a mass timber construction.”

USAA Real Estate estimates the complete project will take about 60 months to come together and will provide more than 504,000 square feet of shell space for the various intended uses. The project site, located south of Six Flags Texas and west of Old Fredericksburg Road, occupies a little less that 50 acres; that includes the 22 acres being offered to the county.

Spurs’ Human Performance Campus Components:

  • Spurs Performance Center: A state-of-the-art training facility for the Spurs, focusing on holistic player development.
  • Human Performance Institute: A facility made up of a coalition of global thought leaders brought together by the mission of evolving human performance and development.
  • Outdoor Plaza: An open community gathering space that will function as the welcome space for the campus and broader community through events and activities.
  • The Park at La Cantera: Built to highlight the Texas Hill County setting, this 22-acre park will serve as a hub for outdoor activities throughout the year; it will have the largest dog park in the county, with separate areas for large and small dogs, and trail heads at the north and south ends with a total of 1005 parking spaces and it connects to the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail System along Leon Creek.
  • Commercial Retail/Office/MOB: The office components will create opportunities for partnership, incubation, and integration into community events at the outdoor plaza and park. At maturity, the campus is to have 100,000 square feet of office space, and 100,000 square feet of medical office building, along with the surface parking and parking garages required to accommodate such a development.
Overall site plan for the Human Performance Campus and Park at La Cantera. Courtesy: USAA Real Estate and SSE.

Offering the park to the county was considered a crucial incentive for getting the county’s involvement. Alex Childers, director of investments for USAA Real Estate, said their vision for this portion of the 1,200-acre La Cantera development was to create a scaled down version of New York’s Central Park.

“We’ve taken the approach here, specifically at this park to really have this be the anchor of this corner,” Childers said. “This should be a gem for the community. It should be used by the community. If you’ve seen the Valero trailhead (south of Loop 1604) on the weekend, it’s packed. People are on the feeder road just waiting to get in. So, this is an extension of that.”

An emotional SSE CEO R.C. Buford apologized for the quiver in his voice, noting that concept unveiled Tuesday has been a passion project of his for many years. The campus will be much more than a training facility for Spurs athletes. It is intended to be a world class research and development  center on human capital that will attract and benefit amateur, professional and soldier athletes at every level.

Buford described the genesis of this vision had much to do with his getting to know an Australian physician, Dr. Andy Walshe.

“He’s a world class thought leader in the optimization and development of human factors, out of Australia in the Australian Institute of Sport. He’s been with the U.S. Olympic Committee as a head of high performance, and has worked on projects around the world, both for humans and humanity, and his goal is to optimize the individual human, the human teams, and then scale places to really grow impact across all humanity,” Buford said.

“Andy shared with me a dream of building a campus where thought leaders from around the world would come together to optimize and develop and research human performance, across cognitive performance, physical performance, social performance, organizational performance, creative arts performance. And as we were visioning our next generation training environment, my dream was ‘Why not do this here for San Antonio for our community?’”

VBX Project ID 2021-5E38

Bird’s-eye view of the dog park section of Park at La Cantera. Courtesy: USAA Real Estate.