‘We’re trying to take our team to our fans everywhere’: San Antonio Spurs returning to Austin

The Spurs are set to play at the Moody Center on March 15 and 17, with Spurs Week celebrations leading up to the two games.

By Elisabeth JimenezMarch 8, 2024 12:02 pm,

Some NBA teams don’t even have a full city to themselves. You’ve got the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the New York Knicks and Nets. But the San Antonio Spurs dominate a territory that spans multiple countries and cultures. They have recently played regular season games in Mexico City, and next week they’ll head up I-35 for two games in Austin.

Spurs CEO R.C. Buford spoke to the Texas Standard on what the expansion means for the basketball team. Listen to the interview about or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: Why is it important for the Spurs to play these games outside of their main market? 

R.C. Buford: I don’t think we really look at this as outside of our main market. We believe that Central and South Texas and all the way to Mexico is really our main market. We’re really trying to take our team and our game to our fans everywhere that they live.

Have you felt any pushback from folks in San Antonio who are a little bit nervous given the tight relationship the Spurs have with the local community? I mean, do you think that playing these games outside of South Texas endangers that at all? 

We have a long history. We celebrated our 50th anniversary last year. We celebrated championships on the Riverwalk. We’ve had a great relationship with our fans throughout our community, and we’ve seen that fanbase grow really around the world.

We’ve had a very international team, and I think people appreciate the diversity of our team. I think this is just another way for us to expand our fan base to capture the imagination of our team and our community and to really build this mega-region that we’re a part of right now.

» GET MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE: Sign up for Texas Standard’s weekly newsletters

Do you see a day when the Spurs or some other NBA teams are playing games in Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, places like that? 

We have played games in those communities so far. This year there was a regular season game in Paris between Cleveland [Cavaliers] and Brooklyn [Nets]. There have been regular season games in London, and I continue to believe that the NBA will expand our footprint. It wouldn’t surprise us if we’re a part of that with our latest engagement with Victor Wembanyama.

Let’s talk about Victor Wembanyama a little bit. You guys had the opportunity to draft him — a 7-foot-4 center from Paris. He’s been with the Spurs for about three quarters of a season now. How do you describe his impact with the team and in the city?

I think we’re incredibly grateful for the hoop gods blessing us with a presence like Victor, and I think him as a teammate, him as a human has been even more impressive than he is as a basketball player.

I think our organization and our region is going to be the beneficiary for years to come with a player that has such great international appeal, that has an incredible belief in the importance of community and being a part of something bigger than himself. I think we have a history of some of our best players — David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili — who wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Victor is another in a line of players who really look to be a part of a great team and a great program and one that we’re excited to share with Austin.

In the future, do you see the Spurs playing more games in Austin down the road, having an even bigger presence here perhaps? 

I think no matter how many games we play in Austin, I think we want to be amongst our fans where they are.

I think the impact work we’re doing in Austin — we’ve built multiple courts now or refurbished multiple courts, in partnership with the Austin Parks and Rec Foundation in creating the Play ATX program — I think you’re going to see our organizational strategies and partnerships develop real relationships throughout the Austin community and throughout our region in a way that continues to expand our brand’s awareness and our brand’s activation in Austin.

During South by [Southwest], the week that we play there, we’re going to have Spurs Week. I think you’ll see us continue to expand our presence in Austin as we build this relationship amongst our region. 

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.