What the Commanders meant to San Antonio
Article by: Jonathan Guajardo - Editor, The San Antonio Sentinel
Red. Crimson. White. These colors ran throughout the veins of the city for eight weeks. Fueled by passion, spirit, and unadulterated zeal, the citizens of San Antonio rallied around the San Antonio Commanders, supporting them at every turn and bolstering them at every loss. When we won the first game against the San Diego Fleet, we stood and cheered and encouraged around our team and marveled at a fledgling league that had yet to prove itself to a national audience. With flashy uniforms sponsored by Starter Sports, a musket salute after each Commander score, and a raucous environment that only intensified with each advancing game, the city stood at attention, mesmerized by the promise of professional football potentially remaining in the Alamo City.
We were ready to prove that we were prepared as a city to accept a professional football team and show that we could support them through all the ups and downs that come with having another major sports program in town. We were ready to cram ourselves into Via Park and Ride buses and ride to the AlamoDome on Saturdays and Sundays. We were ready to spend $35 for a red hat with the signature Commanders crimson logo emblazoned across the front. We were ready to be the best fanbase in the AAF. And we were. By far. We averaged 27,720 fans per game in a league that only averaged 13,524 in other cities across the nation. We did our job. We proved our point. And people took notice. As multiple news outlets across the nation marveled at the enthusiasm displayed by Commanders faithful, the team themselves emphasized how much it meant to have the best fanbase in the league backing them.
Remarking on the dissolution of the team and the league, the Commanders news release, penned by Head Coach Mike Riley, General Manager Daryl Johnston, and Team President Vic Gregovits, emphasized how proud the staff was of the city and the fans, but how disappointed they were to learn that the league was to cease operations. “We are grateful to our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners, and especially our fans that supported us from the moment our team was announced through the record-setting attendance — San Antonio proved to be the best fans in the Alliance time and time again,” read the second to last paragraph of the brief but somber release.
San Antonio, as a sports city, has been through so much regarding the topic of professional football. From the San Antonio Wings, to the Riders, to the Texans, to the Force, to the Talons, and most recently to the Commanders, San Antonio has a long tradition of being always a bridesmaid and never a bride in terms of keeping a football team in the Alamo City. This time though, it definitely wasn’t for lack of trying. We packed the dome, screamed our hearts out, and made the Alamodome a truly deafening place to play. We made the Commanders more than just a team. They became a representation of who we are as a city. They personified so many wonderful things about San Antonio and gave us a reason to look forward to the NFL offseason and dream of the day when we may see a NFL team of our own run out of the Dome’s vast tunnels and into an electric environment almost as enthralling as the games themselves.
I have no doubt that one day we will see professional football again in San Antonio, but until then, we can’t get down on ourselves. If we are to take one lesson from our time with the Commanders, it’s that we believe in ourselves as a city and we showed that we can be more. We longed to prove to the national media and the nation in general that we aren’t a sleepy little town anymore. We showed that we’re not going to sit back, but rather that we’re going to take the initiative and take the country’s breath away. We showed that we are willing to propel our beloved SA into the future, both on and off the field.
I have no doubt that we will soon have a chance to prove ourselves once again in the professional football arena. Until that time, however, Take Command San Antonio!