Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Armadillodome' Puts San Antonio in Convention Mode

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Armadillodome' Puts San Antonio in Convention Mode

Article excerpt

With four skyward-soaring towers and brightly colored suspension cables, San Antonio's Alamodome has been hailed as an architectural inspiration.

The less reverent call it the Armadillodome, pointing out that the concrete towers and the dome's curved steel roof inspire images of an animal often seen on Texas highways, upside down in rigor mortis.

But since opening one year ago, the $189 million Alamodome, home to the NBA Spurs, has lured 48,000 people for a Paul McCartney concert; 54,000 for a boxing match involving Julio Cesar Chavez, a Mexican sports hero and heartthrob; and 63,500 for a Dallas Cowboys-Houston Oilers football game.

Now San Antonio has launched a furious bid for a national political convention in the summer of 1996.

The city is a finalist site for both parties, joining New York City, Chicago, New Orleans and, in the case of the Republicans only, San Diego.

San Antonio's chances of snaring a convention may be better for the year 2000. Chicago clearly remains the odds-on favorite for the Democrats in 1996, in no small part because it is the hometown of the party chairman, David Wilhelm. He is expected to announce a selection next month. Republicans, who will not choose a site until January, say the contest is wide open.

But a senior Democratic official said San Antonio had done a remarkable job of transforming itself in the selection process from a city whose bid was not taken seriously to the clear challenger to Chicago.

"The only criticism I've heard from anybody on the committee was that we'd been putting too much salt in his Margaritas," said Jose Villarreal, a lawyer and chairman of the city's bid.

Villarreal was referring to the Democratic Party's site-selection advisory committee which, in between boat trips along the San Antonio River and a ranch barbecue, toured the Alamodome during a visit in April. A Republican committee will visit in June and be greeted by former Rep. Tom Loeffler, who is leading the city's GOP effort. …

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