(from Venues Today, April 9, 2013) Although most venues’ competitive drive fuels their hunger for increased profits, that doesn’t seem to be the case at Toyota Field, San Antonio’s new soccer-specific stadium. Gordan Hartman, owner of the San Antonio Scorpions, is funneling all proceeds from the team and the venue into charities for individuals with special needs. “When I sort of retired—at least, I sold numerous companies eight years ago—I made the decision that I want to dedicate the second half of my life toward helping those with special needs,” said Hartman.
The stadium is officially owned by Sports Outdoors and Recreation (SOAR). Local San Antonio architecture firm Luna Architecture and Design helped with the project and created the new division, Pro Sports Developments, to take on the project. Design of the stadium began in August 2011, with completed construction drawings in March 2012. The very first game was played April 12, 2013.
Currently, Toyota Field has 16 suites and 8,000 seats. “We have 12 of the 16 suites committed for multiyear deals. By the time we’re in midseason we should have all 16 suites leased out, and whatever isn’t leased we’ll rent out on an event-by-event basis,” said Toyota Field General Manager, Marc Solis.
The unique element to the stadium is the fact that it was built to allow for expansion to develop and grow along with the fan base. Two more design phases are already drawn up in case expansion is necessary. Phase two raises the seating capacity to 12,000 with 32 suites, and phase three allows for 18,500 seats. “Expandability was one of the key features we designed into Toyota Field, and maybe the biggest success,” stated Project Designer and Project Manager, Adam Gill of Pro Sports Development.
Toyota Field is the first time that a pro sport will give all of its money to a nonprofit organization. “If the fans support this team and support this cause, we’ll continue to grow and expand. In doing so, the hope is that the economics of growing will just be more money to help special needs—I never want any money from any of this to touch my pocket,” said Hartman.
Hartman’s whole idea behind this plan is to increase awareness of special needs. Hopefully this investment will prove to make a great positive impact, not only on people throughout the community, but also the venue industry as a whole.