Convocation Center – UTSA Roadrunners

by | Dec 31, 2017 | Eric Moreno, NCAA Basketball |

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Welcome to the Bird Cage!

The University of Texas – San Antonio (UTSA) began playing competitive collegiate basketball during the 1981-82 season as an independent program. Stops in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Southland Conference, and Western Athletic Conference preceded the school’s placement in Conference USA at the start of the 2013-14 season. Over the years, the Roadrunners have a measure of success, including winning their conference regular season in 1991, 1992, and 2004, and winning the conference tournament in 1988, 1999, 2004, and 2011.

These four conference titles allowed UTSA to enter the annual “Big Dance” of college basketball – the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – in each of those years. UTSA has also sent several players to the next level, notably Derrick Gervin (younger brother of NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin) and Devin Brown (who would earn an NBA Championship with his hometown San Antonio Spurs in 2005). All of these accolades and accomplishments have been done inside the school’s Convocation Center – aka the Bird Cage!

Food & Beverage   3

When looking for concessions items at UTSA basketball games, there is a little more here than what you might expect. Many non-power five conference schools often lack concessions items beyond your standard hot dogs/nachos/popcorn/soda/etc. While “The Convo” (as it is known by students on campus) does offer these traditional items, they also step things up a notch.

The main concessions stand, located near the front entrance of the arena, offers Rowdy Dogs (your typical stadium hot dog) for $3 and a chili dog for $4. They also have nachos, popcorn, candy, and bottled soda, water, and sports drinks varying from $3-$5. But where UTSA ups its game is by offering wraps and alcohol on their menu.

A turkey club wrap and a chicken Caesar wrap are offered at each home game, and can be had for $5. Beer and wine are also served during the first half of UTSA basketball games.

There are actually two concession stands in the arena, but the main one near the front entrance will be your easiest access point for food and drinks.

Atmosphere   2

While it can appear quite cavernous inside the Convocation Center (which is fitting as it used to be home to the biannual student body graduation ceremonies), the atmosphere is quite honestly better than anyone could expect for a team that is really without a rich tradition of winning basketball.

On the plus side, the sightlines are on point from the stands, you feel a part of the action while not being forced on top of it, the acoustics are great, and the (relatively) new video board all add to the overall feel and energy of the game. In addition, the basketball band and mascot (which will be discussed further in the Extras section) both add to the game-watching experience.

Neighborhood   4

As has been discussed in many San Antonio reviews, there are few better cities in the country to catch a sporting event than the Alamo City. The Convocation Center is located on the campus of UTSA, which itself is located on the far northwest side of the city. While not near the city’s “usual” host of tourist attractions, there is still plenty to do before and after Roadrunners games.

The main draw for the area is its proximity to Six Flags Fiesta Texas – this theme park is one of the top drawing ones in the state, and can literally be viewed from the Convocation Center’s parking lot. You can spend an entire day at Six Flags, so plan accordingly.

If you want to stretch your legs a little before or after the game (and maybe take home a souvenir or two of your visit to San Antonio), directly across from UTSA’s campus are the Shops at La Cantera. Arguably the city’s premier shopping destination, these outdoor shops have all the major chain restaurants, as well as numerous popular and family-friendly dining options. Plus, you might spot a celebrity or two if you come at the right time.

For lodging, on the high end is La Cantera Resort & Spa – home to award-winning restaurants, relaxation spas, and golf courses (including the Palmer Course at La Cantera designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Resort Course at La Cantera, former home of the PGA’s Valero Texas Open), this resort is a vacation in and of itself.

For those on a budget, the Quality Inn San Antonio Fiesta at Six Flags is right up your metaphorical alley.

Fans   2

The UTSA basketball program had been on a downward trend in recent years, and this has showed up in attendance for games at the Convo. According to the NCAA, the program averaged just under 1,060 fans per game last season. A new direction and a new coach, however, has sparked a renewed interest in the team, and this has also shown in the stands – and in the parking lots.

Prior to most games, you will find the lots adjacent to the Convocation Center full of tailgaters and pre-game revelers; this energy and excitement translates into the arena as well. While student turnout can be hit or miss – depending on what else is happening on campus – the fan support cannot be questioned overall.

Access   3

Make no mistake about this fact – it is a drive to get to UTSA basketball games. The campus is 20-30 minutes (depending on traffic) from either the Downtown area or San Antonio International Airport. Interstate 10 is the preferred method to access the Convocation Center from virtually every part of the city.

From I-10, the arena and accompanying parking is located directly off UTSA Blvd, and is easy to find (look for the big rusty-looking building). Parking is free, so long as you do not park in any marked spaces designated for university employees.

Return on Investment   3

General admission seating for UTSA basketball games is $8 per person. Couple this with the high-level of competition, free parking, and the reasonable prices for concessions, and you get quite a bargain when it comes to collegiate hoops at the Convocation Center.

Extras   2

In terms of Extras, UTSA games have all of your traditional college favorites. The cheerleaders are on hand and the team’s mascot – a giant blue and orange roadrunner named Rowdy – prowls the sidelines, interacts with fans (especially kids), and freely tosses t-shirts and other trinkets into the crowd at appropriate times.

The basketball band, like all great basketball bands do, have their regular set of traditions, rituals, and superstitions (they are known to wave their car keys at vanquished visiting teams to remind them it is time to go home) that they break out throughout the game, in addition to piping out horn and drum-laden music from opening tip to final buzzer.

Final Thoughts

In the aim of maintaining full transparency, I am an alum of UTSA, and have attended many a game at the Convo in my time. I have always recommended attending events here for the atmosphere and the competition on the court. I feel confident that this recommendation, biased slightly as it may be, is still relevant, and that you will enjoy your visit to the Bird Cage, as well.

Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.
Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.

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Food and Drink Recommendations

Whataburger

6803 North Loop 1604 W

San Antonio, TX 78249

(210) 690-8366

https://locations.whataburger.com/tx/san-antonio/6803-n-loop-1604-w.html


Bill Miller Bar-B-Q

7273 North Loop 1604 W

San Antonio, TX 78249

(210) 699-8849

https://www.billmillerbbq.com/locations/bill-miller-50/


Do you want to add your listing on StadiumJourney.com?  Here’s how!

 

Entertainment Recommendations

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

17000 IH-10 West

San Antonio, TX 78257

(210) 697-5050

https://www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas


The Shops at La Cantera

15900 La Cantera Pkwy

San Antonio, TX 78256

https://www.theshopsatlacantera.com/en/directory/


Do you want to add your listing on StadiumJourney.com?  Here’s how!

 

Lodging Recommendations

 

La Cantera Resort & Spa

16641 La Cantera Pkwy

San Antonio, TX 78256

(210) 558-6500

https://www.destinationhotels.com/la-cantera-resort-and-spa


 

Quality Inn San Antonio Fiesta at Six Flags

6755 North Loop 1604 W

San Antonio, TX 78249

(210) 696-4766

https://www.choicehotels.com/texas/san-antonio/quality-inn-hotels/tx640?source=gyxt


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Stadium Info

Convocation Center
1 UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249

UTSA Roadrunners Basketball website

Convocation Center website

Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 4,080

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