Port San Antonio Board Approves Funding for $60M Innovation Center

Port San Antonio board members approved committing $60 million to build an innovation center after a meeting on Thursday, according to Port officials.

The construction of a state-of-the-art innovation center will help advance the organization’s Tech Port strategy to connect people with employment, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Port will fund the project construction costs via a commercial loan, to be repaid from anticipated multiple revenue streams from the center’s entertainment events, conferences, and industry partnerships.

In keeping with the Port’s economic development mandate, the board also decided to allocate 100% of the innovation center’s excess revenue (after expenses) to support technology-focused K-12, college-level, and professional development programs. 

.@PortSanAntonio approves $60M to build a new innovation center, complete with state-of-the-art, 24-hour e-tech arena. It's slated to open in 2022. Click To Tweet

New Innovation Center: Tech Arena, Esports, Museum, R&D Lab 

The new center will open sometime in 2022. The multi-purpose building will include:

  • A 2,500-seat state-of-the-art technology arena with flexible configurations for esports competitions, concerts, product launches, large training programs, as well as for hosting conventions and conferences
  • Classrooms and meeting spaces for educational programs, smaller industry meetings, and collaborative gatherings
  • A research and development (R&D) lab with specialized prototyping and fabrication equipment to support STEM-driven startups, and,
  • A 24-hour electronic gaming area and a full-scale food hall, including catering support for the various events hosted at the center.

The planned maker space, e-gaming arena, and home for SAMSAT will help connect San Antonio’s community with educators and technology employers for more workforce development opportunities, Perschbach said.

The Port approved in February a pre-development agreement with American Triple I Partners, an infrastructure private equity firm focused on transportation, information technology, and smart city investments. The fund management firm oversees significant development projects across the country and has done a feasibility analysis, business plan, and design for the Port’s innovation center. San Antonio-based RVK Architects created the center’s designs.

Sundt Construction will start construction later this summer, with completion scheduled for early 2022. 

Once open, ASM Global will operate the innovation center, to include organizing its hosted conventions, sporting events, gaming competitions, and concerts, as well as business, cultural and entertainment events.

Read more: Port San Antonio Board Approves ASM Global as Operator for New Innovation Center

“The ultimate value of a development project is measured by the positive and lasting impact it has on a community,” said Triple-I CEO David Cibrian. “Together, we look forward to advancing the Port’s role as a place for building futures and to also create a proven, robust model that other American communities can draw upon.”

Esports has become an exploding trend that is shaping the future of gaming and digital media. With the growth in games as a service, cross-screen entertainment, creator and live streaming tools, video-based communities, and more, e-gaming has become much more than a place to host video games.

Adding an e-gaming arena that can accommodate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational activities such as drone races and cybersecurity gaming competitions will help place San Antonio on the map for STEM innovation, Perschbach believes.

“By building an ecosystem in San Antonio that is exciting and easily accessible to millions of individuals and empowers them so they can be part of that tidal change—through education, through employment and as innovators and entrepreneurs—we keep raising our profile as a leading innovation destination,” Port San Antonio president and CEO Jim Perschbach stated. “This will accelerate job and economic growth in our region, and it will increasingly allow us to compete globally based on the value of our technology and the talent of our people.”

Featured image is of the technology arena at the upcoming innovation center Port San Antonio is building. Photo credit: Port San Antonio / RVK Architects.

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Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez is a writer based in San Antonio, Texas, covering innovation in emerging tech, cybersecurity, and bioscience startup companies in San Antonio.

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