The Mendoza Line: San Antonio-area officials put Spurs in charge of COVID response

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Voters flock to the AT&T Center on November 3. Local officials hope Spurs Sports and Entertainment has better luck changing public behavior than they did. - TWITTER / AT&T CENTER
  • Twitter / AT&T Center
  • Voters flock to the AT&T Center on November 3. Local officials hope Spurs Sports and Entertainment has better luck changing public behavior than they did.
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After failing to convince residents to engage in social distancing and avoid holiday gatherings, San Antonio and Bexar County officials on Monday put Spurs Sports and Entertainment in charge of the area’s COVID-19 response.



"It’s clear that SSE are experts at getting people to change their behavior — and we simply can't," said County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez, who pushed for the change. "Fans applauded the team for announcing they wouldn’t let them attend games in person. If elected officials like us ordered that, everyone from the governor to Spurs Jesus would be calling for our heads."

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Rodriguez said he's willing to take chance on the NBA team even though it charged more than $255,000 for the county to use its own AT&T Center as a mega-voting site during the November election.



With COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations climbing, public officials said they're desperate enough to look for outside help to contain the crisis. Even so, some are concerned the Spurs' final bill will be a whopper.

"Honestly, I never expected a quarter million-dollar bill from the Spurs for three weeks-worth of election work," County Judge Nelson Wolff said. "Who do they think they are? Lawyers? Political consultants? Truth is, COVID is going to go much longer than that. I hope they’re not looking at this as an opportunity to make up for lost revenue or pay for those retro Fiesta uniforms they just brought out of retirement."

Spurs Sports and Entertainment CEO R.C. Buford said the public’s behavior will ultimately determine the final bill. The harder the organization has to work to convince people to stay at home, social distance and wear masks, the bigger the price tag.

"We have built some incentives into our agreement that should sweeten the pot," Buford said. "Everyone in Bexar County will get a 10% off coupon at the Spurs Fan Store if we can get the positivity rate below 5%. If we can get hospitalizations down to zero for 90 straight days, then everyone gets a buy-one-Spurs ticket, get-the-second-half-off coupon for the 2021-22 season."

Buford added: "If we can eliminate it like they did in New Zealand, we’ll give everyone tickets to a future Silver Stars game."

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