Bexar County commissioners approved a request from Texas A&M University-San Antonio to fund the design and construction of athletics facilities/fields on campus. The $10 million commitment from Bexar County for phase two of Texas A&M University–San Antonio athletic fields will help the University build a multipurpose field and competition track for soccer and other athletic activities, and a new softball stadium.
“There are a number of issues around health equity, outdoor recreation, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in South Bexar County,” said Texas A&M University – San Antonio President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson. “There are limited opportunities for young people and the community at large to participate in sports, and the University is excited to serve as a hub for athletic activities.”
With an estimated project cost of approximately $7.4 million, the multipurpose field and track will serve as a practice and competition facility for men’s and women’s sports. The field and track will also provide the Southside community a facility for youth and parent-supervised play and fitness activities, such as pick-up soccer, flag football, rugby, lacrosse, and track events. Preliminary plans include artificial turf integrated with a tournament track and field facility to include ample seating, team-side benches, and a press box.
The new softball stadium, estimated at approximately $2.4 million to construct, will serve as a tool for recruitment and provide one of the best training and competition venues in the country. The multi-purpose facilities will be available to the community when not in use by the University.
The University’s new facilities will also meet the needs of the surrounding community. This investment in venues that increase access to physical activities will positively impact the social determinants of health on the Southside. Obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are risk factors that consistently rank among the top five causes of chronic illnesses and death in Bexar County, and South Bexar County residents have a life expectancy that is 10 years less than their North Bexar County counterparts. Improving the physical and social frameworks within these neighborhoods will improve the overall mental and physical health of Southside residents.
“This $10 million Bexar County investment isn’t just about supporting a young university to build up its athletics department, but it’s also about encouraging the community to get fresh air and exercise. We need more facilities that are easily accessible where people can go walking and where they feel safe from stray dogs. Our community needs to attack obesity and diabetes – the pandemic highlighted this, but it’s something I’ve been advocating for years,” said Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores.
Additionally, there is a disparity in the number of dedicated fields and courts for youth and amateur sports in the area, which has a large population and is growing rapidly. Of the 13 youth and amateur sports facilities supported by Bexar County, only four are located south of Highway 90, and only one is located south of Interstate 410. Texas A&M University–San Antonio’s new facilities will provide much-needed access to athletics facilities/fields for the community.
“We are actively looking to connect with the community to be able to use our fields,” said Texas A&M University–San Antonio Athletic Director Darnell Smith. “We plan to make the fields open to the public at predetermined times. We are also looking at the facilities being available for rentals, little leagues, and other organizations who are interested in utilizing our facilities for competition. So, this will truly be for the community, in addition to our athletics.”