Get ready to put those guns up San Antonio. The NFL concludes their season this coming weekend with Super Bowl LV, but football fans won’t have to wait long to continue following the sport they love, and once again, San Antonio will be represented on the gridiron.
It feels like just yesterday when the San Antonio Gunslingers, a fresh revival of a storied team, held their uniform reveal at the Alamo Beer Company, where fans had a chance to meet the ownership group behind the team, as well as the head coach and team president, Tony Hernandez. Things were looking up heading into the new year as all of the world also looked forward to the changing of the calendar to 2021.
Like lots of people quickly realized, a new year didn’t get rid of the problems from last year, and with the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Gunslingers announced on New Year’s Eve that the scrimmage scheduled with the El Paso Buccaneers for January 16th was postponed. As of today, there hasn’t been a date shared for the rescheduling of the contest, but if it were to happen, it would have to happen soon, as the season opener for the new Gunslingers’ inaugural season is just over a month away.
What Is This Gunslingers Team?
The San Antonio Gunslingers are an arena league team that will compete in the American Arena League (AAL). In arena football, there are no kickoffs, and the field is half of that of standard football, measuring just 50 yards long. The team is made up of guys from all over who participated in tryouts with the team last fall and will feature a large number of local and regional athletes who are looking for the opportunity to continue to compete in the sport they love.
At the helm of this team is Coach Hernandez, born and raised in San Antonio himself, who makes his return to coaching and is ready to compete.
“We’re not into this thing just to be competitive,” he said at the event in November, “We’re going to make our presence felt right off the bat.”
The most encouraging part of this new team is that it is locally owned by four primary investors in Hector Garcia (CEO), Jason Torres (COO), Juan Ramirez (CFO), and Jonathan Young (GM), all who understand what football means to this city. “To those that have been with us from the very beginning, who shared this dream with us, everybody who was a little gun-shy about going with the Gunslingers because of everything that has happened in the past,” Torres told the crowd at the uniform reveal. “We promise to deliver on an amazing team, an amazing season, and a football team that is here to stay for many years to come.”
San Antonio has had its heart broken a number of times in the past by teams that didn’t stick around, and more recently with the Commanders, a league that collapsed after just a season. The Gunslingers and the AAL may not have the names that Darryl Johnston, Trent Richardson, Michael Vick and Johnny Manziel did for the Alliance of American Football (AAF), but the advantage is that the AAL is an established league.
The Arena Football League
One of the downfalls of San Antonio football teams before is that they were largely involved with launching new football leagues that faced a lot of unknowns. In joining the AAL, the Gunslingers will be part of the Texas expansion of a league that has already completed three seasons, and was set to start their fourth before the pandemic hit last year. Unlike the XFL that was forced to fold, the AAL just hit pause on their operations, which was largely an option because the costs are relatively low, and all teams are privately owned.
Where so many sectors and companies were dealing with down-sizing last year, the AAL is actually a growing entity, and this season will increase from 14 teams last year to 17 this year, including the addition of five teams from Texas that will make up the West Division. If the math seems off, you’re right; A number of states that had multiple teams last season will have just one this year, and Maryland, who had two teams slated for last season, won’t have any. Joining San Antonio in the “Texas Division” will be the Austin Wild, El Paso Buccaneers, North Texas Bulls (Fort Worth), and the Texas Takeover (Dallas).
So When Are the Games
On January 21st, the San Antonio Gunslingers released their season schedule on their Facebook page. The nine-game regular season slate will be played from March into June, with most games taking place on Saturdays or Mondays. The first game of the season is a home-opener for the Gunslingers who are set to call The Rose Palace their home, and they’ll be hosting the North Texas Bulls on March 13th at 7:30pm. At the moment, the team plans to have fans in attendance, and tickets are available now, and range from $10-$20. Per the team’s Facebook page, home and away games will be streamed live on their Facebook, YouTube and Twitch accounts.
Are you buying into this new team? Do you plan on attending any games? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @JarkClonas, and be sure to tag @ProjectSpurs.