Special Guest Contribution by Kyle Mahnke of PitchBlackNews.com
I’ve never had to explain the Spurs to someone from San Antonio.
Only when speaking to someone from outside of South Texas have I been forced to put into words what the city’s NBA franchise means to the community. I’ve gotten plenty of practice these last few months as San Antonio joined the United Soccer League. Whether swinging my digital sword as a keyboard warrior or being a touch more professional speaking to people who cover other teams, I’ve tried to convey the sense of unity, pride, passion, and unwavering commitment that almost all San Antonians have for the Spurs. I even believe the Spurs hold those same feelings towards the fans.
So knowing all of that in my heart, seeing the back-windshield murals of the Big Three around town and a Spurs flag waiving next to my front door, I knew that San Antonio FC was going to be an entirely different experience than anything the city has seen before.
We’re less than a third of the way through the regular season and the differences between the professional soccer club we have and the club we watched step away are too many to list. The matchday environment is fantastic. The player and front office quality is just as high as you would expect the parent company of the Spurs to put together. Even the merchandise feels authentically San Antonio.
But what I’m most impressed with is how much the club cares about the fans. There are large-scale things, like making sure the Crocketteers are part of every announcement and have a dedicated place to tailgate before the match. But the small things, like a friend of mine getting a call from the club to see how his experience was at a recent match, are what really hits home for me.
There is a buzz surrounding San Antonio FC. The front office, with major help from the Crocketteers and other fans, have truly made Toyota Field as comfortable and passionate as the AT&T Center but with a soccer twist. I hope as fans we can use the innate Spurs culture of San Antonio to open a dialogue to coworkers and friends who may not have given soccer a chance in the past. I hope we can take this energy and spread it across the entire city to the point that we see SAFC banners on businesses and car windshields. I hope we can grow the game in a way that whether MLS wants us or not, they’ll sure know our reputation as a soccer haven. Beyond anything else, I hope that the great vibes we’re feeling as fans become part of San Antonio culture the way that the Spurs did.
I can’t wait for the day I don’t have to explain SAFC to anyone, and I don’t think its far away.