Port San Antonio Board Approves Phase 1 Plans for New Innovation Center

By Iris Gonzalez
The Port proposes a new e-arena as part of its planned STEM campus. The Renderings credit: Port San Antonio and Gonzalez | Mogas Architects.

Port San Antonio announced it would begin development of its proposed innovation center after board members approved plans in a meeting on Wednesday, according to Port officials.

The board resolution authorizes the Port to spend up to $1 million on architectural and engineering design development costs for Phase 1 of the new facility. Completion of the design package for the project, complete with conceptual renderings, is expected in spring 2020.

The approved center will include a technology arena, museum, collaborative technology transfer lab, an industry showroom, and community spaces and amenities. The new center is designed to accelerate innovation development already in progress at the Port and across San Antonio, Port president and CEO Jim Perschbach said during the annual Port update Nov. 8.

Read more: Shift in Port San Antonio Strategic Approach Yields Close to 3,000 New Jobs

The planned maker space, co-working space, e-gaming arena, and new home for the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) is designed to help connect San Antonio’s community with educators and technology employers for more workforce development opportunities, Perschbach said. The new center is slated to open sometime in 2022 or sooner.

In February, Port board members approved a pre-development agreement with American Triple I Partners, an infrastructure private equity firm focused on transportation, information technology, and smart city investments, to build the innovation center. The Port had extended the 120-day agreement to November 30.

According to Port documents, the goal is to be “shovel ready” by June 30, 2020. Triple I would pay for up to $1 million in initial project costs. Port San Antonio is committed to paying up to $1 million in initial project costs and will retain intellectual property rights for the Phase 1 design.

Assuming Board approval of final project agreements, Triple I would operate and maintain the new facility for 20 years subject to the Port’s creative control, Port documents state. The agreement states Triple I will issue new securities as part of the financing package for construction of the new center. Private placement is a standard method of raising business capital by offering equity shares.

Port San Antonio CEO and president Jim Perschbach speaks to attendees at the MRO conference. Courtesy image.
Port San Antonio CEO and president Jim Perschbach speaks to attendees at the MRO conference. Courtesy image.

Pershbach emphasized how the new center will include community amenities such as a food hall, meeting spaces, and room to hold STEM educational activities. The Port campus needs additional food and beverage options to support a growing community, which along with the new maker space, museum, and industry showroom, will help attract those who don’t already work at the Port.

“We will provide our community with an important head start and a huge advantage,” Perschbach said.

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.

“Industries that are changing the world continue to choose to locate and grow here, and the innovation center will give them a competitive edge they will not find in any other community,” Perschbach said. “It will allow them to connect with strategic partners and future customers.

“Of special importance, this facility will also be fun and exciting—helping to inspire and strengthen the skills of today’s and future generations of innovators right here in San Antonio.”

Featured image is of an initial conceptual rendering for a new e-arena as part of its planned innovation hub. Renderings credit: Port San Antonio and Gonzalez | Mogas Architects.

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