Port San Antonio's board of directors on Wednesday took the first steps toward building a new facility that leaders of the sprawling industrial campus in South San Antonio hope will make it a destination for sports enthusiasts, science education, and innovation.
The board voted unanimously at its monthly meeting to contract American Triple I Partners, a local development firm chaired by former Mayor Henry Cisneros, to lead the design and construction management efforts for an innovation center to be constructed on the 1,900-acre Port San Antonio campus.
The Port's leadership plans for the center to host esports tournaments, conferences, concerts, and other events. In addition, it will serve as the home of the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, or SAMSAT, which houses artifacts and gadgets from the technological past, as well as showcase technology built by Port tenants.
Co-working space and a makerspace, for building devices and working on other projects, will serve both early-stage entrepreneurs and students on the innovation center grounds.
The center will also procure food and beverage vendors.
"We want this facility to represent not just what the Port is today, but what the Port is striving to be and what San Antonio is striving to be – a truly first-class facility," said Jim Perschbach, the Port's president and CEO.
The draw of the gaming community is expected to be the main revenue driver at the facility. Perschbach cited market research that predicts esports will trump the income potential of all sports except the NFL. The global esports market is expected to reach $3 billion by 2025, according to recent analysis.
In early 2018, Perschbach took the reins of the Port, a public entity created in the wake of the 2001 closure of Kelly Air Force base, with the charge from board members to pursue a vision that reimagined the Port as a high-technology hub to complement its traditional tenants in the manufacturing, logistics, aviation, and defense sectors.