San Antonio Spurs Break the All-Time NBA Attendance Record with 68,323 Fans for their 50th Anniversary Game at the AlamodomePosted on June 13, 2023 by National Sports Forum | Selling It | SUBSCRIBE
By: Cameron Lim & Isabelle Madrid
Dear Faithful Readers,
As we enter the tail end of June gloom in San Diego we are eager to dive into Summer. The NBA wrapped up its season this week, with the Denver Nuggets taking home their first championship. As we reflect on the season, I always enjoy learning more about the different theme nights and celebrations that teams have to give back to the fans and their host city.
In this edition of “Selling It…,” we had the chance to learn more about the San Antonio Spurs historical 50th Anniversary celebration where they broke the all-time NBA attendance record back home in the Alamodome. Keep reading to learn more.
The connection between a city’s team and the local community is a relationship that can never be broken. Throughout the entire 2022-23 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs organization gaveback to their fans through the celebration of their 50th anniversary season. They honored former players, released special merchandise, ran special promotions, and even took games to Mexico City and Austin. The biggest celebration was on a Friday night in January when 68,323 fans packed the Alamodome and became a part of NBA history. That night, the Spurs returned to their former home, the Alamodome, for the first time since 2002, breaking an all-time NBA attendance record in the process.
On January 13th, fans participated in a day-long event, celebrating the community of San Antonio and the Spurs organization. Fans camped outside of the box
office to claim one of the 10,000 tickets that the team released for just $10 each. The city opened up free downtown parking to accommodate the 68,323 fans attending. Companies permitted half days for employees to head to the game and take full part in pre-game festivities. When fans arrived, they were greeted with a festive atmosphere outside the Alamodome with food, drinks, and live music. The stadium was decorated head to toe with Spurs paintings, pictures, and murals. There were many photo opportunities, including a complete replica of the original Spurs locker room at the Alamodome. 20 minutes before tip-off, fans were encouraged to enter the stadium to take part in an amazing light show which produced some breathtaking visuals. During the game, former Spurs players were honored, including Hall of Famer David Robinson. During a third-quarter stoppage, Robinson took to the mic at center court to officially announce the total attendance number of 68,323. This announcement solidified the NBA record and set the tone for the night. After the final buzzer, the party did not stop. More than 3 hours after the game, thousands of fans were still outside the stadium watching an amazing firework display and taking in the historic night.
Frank Miceli, Chief Revenue Officer of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, shared that the idea of hosting a game in the Alamodome was first conceived in 2019. With excellent collaboration and tireless work from all departments, the team put the plan into motion in July 2022. Miceli described how there were numerous moving parts to make the event a success, “It took a village, probably more like 4 or 5 villages. From Game Operations to IT as well as our brand team, it touched almost every department in the organization and everyone knocked it out of the park.” Miceli and his team spent months executing their plans. After getting date and time approval from the NBA and the Alamodome, the team then had to focus on the set-up within the dome and finally, selling it out. Countless hours to adjust seating for ideal sightlines, accommodate luxury suites similar to the AT&T Center, set up the court, and decorate the arena. After what was described as the “heaviest lift” of his career, Miceli said that all the hard work allowed the game to be perfectly executed, “There was nothing that our team could have done better.”
When planning their 50th anniversary season, the Spurs were looking for ways to give back to the community and celebrate their loyal fans. Being a small market team, the bond between the community and the Spurs is among the strongest in basketball. As a result, they wanted to do everything they could to give back to the diehard fans in their community. Oftentimes, fans can get priced out by their favorite sports team, therefore the Spurs wanted to find a way to give back to the underserved San Antonio communities. This not only included the $10 tickets at the box office, but several senior executives purchased additional tickets to be distributed to the community.
The Spurs wanted this to be more than a game. They were able to bring the entire city together for a full day of celebration and an experience fans would never forget. “Our biggest goal was to serve the community and show our appreciation. The entire city embraced our idea and our Mayor and County Judge were instrumental to making it happen. It was very special to be a part of something like this,” Miceli mentioned.
January 13, 2023, San Antonio, TX, San Antonio Spurs v. Golden State Warriors, Alamodome, NBA World Record: 68,323 (Photo by Logan Welch/San Antonio Spurs)
January 13, 2023, San Antonio, TX: A wide view of the crowd during ring the San Antonio Spurs 50th Anniversary celebration game against the Golden State Warriors at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas Friday, January 13, 2023 (Photo by Aaron Meullion/San Antonio Spurs)
There were many partners involved in creating this special event, the two main partners being Michelob Ultra and Ticketmaster. One of the main aspects of the game was the idea that it was an all day celebration for the city of San Antonio and the Spurs. To execute this plan, Michelob Ultra and Ticketmaster, played a crucial role. They hosted photobooths, cornhole tournaments, and fan contests, in addition to drink specials for fans to take advantage of before and after the game. Because over 60,000 tickets had to be sold effectively and efficiently, the Spurs needed a partner to help sell the tickets. Miceli mentioned that Ticketmaster played a big role. They helped facilitate every single one of the purchases involved in making NBA history and did it flawlessly.
The overall partnership with the entire San Antonio community fueled the success of this event. The turnout would not have been possible without the support from the city. From the transportation to the in-stadium seating, there were many individuals in various roles that had to work together to get it done.
The game was a massive success from every single vantage point for the Spurs Sports & Entertainment team. Despite the numerous moving parts, everything went smoothly. There were no technological, structural, or fan issues. The reviews of the game from fans were overwhelmingly positive as the fanbase united to take part in something special. In the weeks leading up, local media picked up the story and reported on the buzz surrounding the game. From start to finish, the Spurs had an estimated 179 million dollars in earned media according to Meltwater. The Spurs also amassed 6 million social media impressions and over 570,000 engagements on gameday. From a ticket sales perspective, they sold out the game and broke the all-time attendance record for the Alamodome and the NBA. In the process, the sales department picked up over 6,000 new leads from first-time buyers. In addition, 15,000 tickets went to underserved San Antonio communities, one of the team’s goals when curating this celebration.
Given the time, energy, and level of preparation required in staging a basketball game inside a football stadium, hosting another game in the Alamodome is not likely to happen for the Spurs in the near future. However, other teams in the NBA have reached out to inquire how to execute such a complicated event. Therefore, it is possible that something similar will happen in a different market. The Spurs also sold out games in Mexico City and Austin as part of their 50th anniversary season. Given the success of those events, it is very likely that the Spurs will return to hosting more international games and out-of-market games such as the ones in Mexico and Austin.
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