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Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From college towns to good reasons to play hooky, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio neighbor booms as 4th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says. San Marcos' population in 2000 was 36,120; in 2023 the population has nearly doubled to 70,372.

2. Curtains open on San Antonio music school's charming new community space. Sage Music recently finished construction on a beautiful building in Midtown, inserting modern practice spaces and a concert stage.

3. San Antonio International Airport relaxes into rating as the 5th least stressful U.S. airport. Factors that helped determine SAT's rank include the percentage of delayed flights and cancelled flights as of 2022.

4. San Antonio golf course scores title from Texas Monthly as one of the state's best. What sets this course apart, according to editor in chief Dan Goodgame, is its rich history and the challenges it provides for avid golfers.

5. Comedian Adam Sandler chooses San Antonio as only Texas stop on new tour. He played Austin, Houston, and Dallas last February as part of his "Adam Sandler Live" stand-up tour, but they're not getting his new tour.

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San Antonio International Airport relaxes into rating as the 5th least stressful U.S. airport

ol' reliable

With the holiday season just around the corner, flight traffic is about to get even busier nationwide. Lucky for San Antonio, locals can sleep tight the night before their flights, knowing they live in a city with one of the most reliable airports in the U.S.

San Antonio International Airport (SAT) ranked No. 5 in the 2023 MarketWatch study examining the 45 best and worst airports for stress-free travel. Factors that helped determine SAT's rank include the percentage of delayed flights and cancelled flights as of 2022, the average cost of airfare in 2023, and the average security wait times.

The most recent Bureau of Transportation data from 2022 says a vast majority of flights out of San Antonio left on time, with only 17 percent of flights getting delayed. In the analysis of flight cancellations, a mere 2.4 percent of SAT flights got cancelled as of last year.

The airport with the highest percentage of delayed flights is Chicago Midway International Airport (No. 26), with a staggering 36 percent of flights delayed as of 2022. La Guardia Airport (No. 43) in New York had the highest percentage of cancelled flights at 5.4 percent.

In order to avoid the possible headaches from delayed or cancelled flights, Miss Tourist blog founder Yulia Saf recommends passengers purchase travel insurance.

"[Travel insurance] offers a security blanket against unpredictable flight dynamics and unexpected expenses," Saf said in the report. "As a frequent flier, it has not just saved me financially, but the peace of mind it provides is priceless."

Besides having a flight get delayed or cancelled, waiting to get through TSA lines is another stress-inducing part of airport travel. However, SAT is renowned for having short wait times, and MarketWatch says the average security wait time is about 12 minutes.

That's much better than the 45 minutes a traveler would spend at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (No. 19), which had the highest average security wait times out of all airports analyzed in the report.

As for airfare pricing, the average flight in San Antonio costs about $390, which includes both one-way and round-trip domestic flights. The airport with the lowest flight costs is Orlando Sanford International Airport (No. 9 overall) with flights averaging about $148, while travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport (No. 28) pay an average of $495 for their flights.

The top 5 most reliable airports, according to MarketWatch, are:

  • No. 1 – Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • No. 2 – San Jose International Airport
  • No. 3 – Fresno Yosemite International Airport
  • No. 4 – Sacramento International Airport
  • No. 5 – San Antonio International Airport

Even as SAT shatters records for the busiest flight traffic this year, that doesn't seem to be putting a strain on the airport's overall performance. Most recently, SAT broke another passenger traffic record for the Labor Day weekend. About 160,000 travelers flew in and out of SAT throughout the holiday period, which is a 10 percent increase from 2022 and a 13 percent more than 2019.

In a release celebrating the airport's rank in the study, San Antonio Airport System (SAAS) Director of Airports Jesus Saenz said more travelers are flying through SAT thanks to its dedication to providing stress-free experiences.

"We’re setting record after record this year,” said Saenz. “Travelers are excited to visit the Alamo City and our community values SAT to travel elsewhere. They know we will get them there and it will be smooth.”

The full report can be found on marketwatch.com.

Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

San Antonio International Airport breaks record for busiest day ever


The San Antonio International Airport (SAT) has shattered its record for the busiest day ever recorded. On July 31, 41,560 travelers flew in and out of the airport, according to the Transport Safety Administration (TSA).

The last record was set on March 9, 2019, when TSA reported approximately 37,998 passengers flying in or out. San Antonio Airport Systems (SAAS) Director of Airports Jesus Saenz said in a release that SAT is experiencing the "best and busiest" summer season ever, with several new records being broken thanks to the high number of travelers.

"We’re so elated to see so many people in our community taking trips, and we’re welcoming people who are visiting San Antonio from all over the world," said Saenz. "Our Airport Ambassadors, who love to give back by volunteering to help people find their way, absolutely love this time of year because we are bustling."

Saenz also praised the high traffic volume as a sign of continuing growth. SAT just broke the record for the busiest June ever reported, with 949,830 inbound and outbound passengers flying at the airport.

Other records that have been set by SAT in 2023 include the busiest May ever reported, and the busiest Fourth of July weekend. Yet things are still moving efficiently.

"We are seeing double-digit growth in capacity (seats) to Mexico and numerous cities across the U.S. compared to July 2019 – which was a record-breaking year for us," said SAAS Chief Air Service Development Officer Brian Pratte. "This is encouraging news for our economy and shows the impact of our targeted efforts at SAT – to expand air service options for our customers both locally and globally."

Throughout June and July 2023, SAT saw a daily average of 34,000 passengers flying in and out, which is a 4,000-traveler increase year-over-year from the same time period in 2022.


San Antonio International Airport crowned Airport of the Year for diversity

flying high

Great news is flying through Alamo City. The San Antonio International Airport (SAT) was just named Airport of the Year by the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC). This high honor highlights the airport's contributions to improving diversity and inclusion among its employees.

SAT was recognized during the 38th Annual AMAC Airport Business Diversity Conference's Catalyst Awards, where airports are spotlighted based on their efforts that further the Council's goals. A few of the prominent AMAC objectives include uplifting "minorities and women" within the aviation and aerospace sectors through "employment and contracting opportunities," according to a release.

Jesus Saenz, Director of Airports for the San Antonio Airport System (SAAS), said SAT's endeavors to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion are "an integral part of the workforce culture" within SAAS.

"AMAC’s mission is in line with our mission to deliver the San Antonio experience through transformation and talent by focusing on our people – both those we hire and the 10 million travelers we serve each year at SAT," Saenz said. "We are so proud of every team member at both SAT and Stinson Municipal Airport."

The San Antonio Airport System (SAAS) instated their Aviation Equity Initiative in 2020, leading to widespread community engagement, and greater involvement with school-age children. The initiative has allowed for more airport tours for historically disadvantaged and marginalized students, while advocating for more youth avian education.

SAAS also put greater focus on inclusionary hiring efforts in 2021, leading to more than half of the 114 employees that were hired or promoted that year being minorities.

SAT's Business Opportunity and Diversity Development (BODD) team was also recognized for their efforts.

More information about the AMAC Airport Business Diversity Conference can be found at amac-org.com.


Spanish fast fashion brand ripens at La Cantera, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Spanish fashion giant picks La Cantera for first San Antonio store. According to a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), Spanish fashion giant Mango is building its first San Antonio store.

2. San Antonio Airport redesign takes flight with stunning new renderings. The Terminal Development Program will transform the main terminal into a space worthy of one of the largest cities in the United States.

3. First-of-its-kind Hill Country resort blends acclaimed Texas winery, brewery, and spa. Carter Creek Winery, Resort & Spa stands high on a hill overlooking U.S. Hwy. 290, just off a swerve-fast-or-you’ll-miss-it exit outside Johnson City.

4. Former Spurs owner and Texas tycoon Red McCombs passes away in San Antonio at 95. Under McCombs' leadership Clear Channel Communications (now iHeart Radio) became the largest radio and advertising media company in the world.

5. Kayak and paddle board rentals make a splash at 2 San Antonio lakes. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department has approved a license agreement for non-motorized watercraft rentals with Austin-based The Expedition School.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Sudden shutters, buzzy burgers, and jam-packed events crowd San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

A downtown pub won't be around to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2024. Via a September 17 Instagram post, Maddy McMurphy's Irish Sports Bar announced its immediate closure after a five-year run. The watering hole teased the news a few days prior, promoting a "Last Hurrah" party on September 15. Neither bulletin offered any explanation for the move. Sibling concepts in owner Terry Corless' portfolio, including Mad Dogs British Pub and Prost Haus, will continue to operate.

Local fast-casual joint Biff Buzby's Burgers observed National Cheeseburger Day by announcing a second location. The outpost will be located at the former site of the short-lived Windmill Ice House on 2769 Nacogdoches Rd., confirming the latter's July temporary closure was permanent. Judging by Facebook photos, Biff Buzby's is nearing completion, though the owners weren't quite ready to declare an opening date. They did share that the original location's popular car shows would not be revving up at the new space.

Drive-thru coffee shop 7 Brew is also in expansion mode. A press release spilled the beans on an upcoming second San Antonio location at 6202 North I-35 Frontage Rd. The Arkansas-based company opened its first local outlet in July, introducing the Alamo City market to original creations like the Smooth 7, a white chocolate and Irish cream breve. The new location will host soft opening events September 22-29, leading up to the September 30 grand opening.

Other news and notes

While America's craft beer industry is struggling, Alamo Beer Co. is making a bold move. The Eastside brewery is merging with VIVA Beer, according to a release. The move will allow the latter to grow the brand in San Antonio and beyond.

Embracing the de facto return of fall, if not the return of crisp weather, the food scene is preparing for a flurry of events. The Big Red & Barbacoa Festival has announced the dates for its 11th year. Single-day tickets start at $10 and are available online.

Can't wait until October for festival season? The San Antonio Brunch Festival runs from 11am to 3 pm on September 23. More than a dozen local eateries will be participating, offering unlimited bites. Tickets, ranging from $85-$150, are no longer available online but will be available at the door. More details are available here.

The University of Texas San Antonio's popular Ven a Comercelebration returns on September 29. Several activities are planned to support UTSA's renowned Mexican cookbook collection, including a series of dinners at Mixtli, a DIY cookbook workshop, a community pachanga, and a party at Carriqui. As always, the event's showcase will be a fundraising dinner on September 29 featuring local chefs Alexana Cabrera and Sofia Tejeda, mezcalero Pedro Jimenez Gurria, and James Bears Award winner Iliana de la Vega of Austin's El Naranjo.

Ladino is marking its first anniversary with a grill-out party on October 1. The shindig will feature unlimited bites, a live DJ, and games for $40. Cocktails will be available for purchase.

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Music and more live entertainment are making a strong case for being out and about in Alamo City for the next few days. See Maluma live in concert, or have a laugh with Deon Cole. For those looking to welcome fall with a bit of flair, Fright Fest returns to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Check out the top seven things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, September 21

Mission Marquee Outdoor Family Film Series: Selena
Enjoy a free screening of the blockbuster 1997 film Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez, on the outdoor silver screen at Mission Marquee Plaza. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, blankets, and snacks for the most comfortable movie experience. Additional attractions include food trucks and live entertainment. More information about the film series can be found at missionmarquee.com. This is a pet-friendly and all-ages event.

San Antonio Botanical Garden presents "Lush: Twilight in the Garden"
The after-hours entertainment series at San Antonio Botanical Garden continues. This month’s activities are inspired by the theme "Knight at the Garden" and will include extended garden hours, live music, entertainment, a signature beverage, and an array of floral displays for ambiance. For more information and to snag your tickets, go to sabot.org.

AT&T Center presents Maluma in concert
Latin music sensation Maluma stops by San Antonio’s AT&T Center for one night only. The Colombian voice of hit songs like “HP” and “Felices Los 4” performs live in support of his new album, Don Juan. Go to Ticketmaster for more details.

Friday, September 22

Six Flags Fiesta Texas presents Fright Fest
Six Flags Fiesta Texas undergoes a terrific transformation into the spookiest space in San Antonio with the return of Fright Fest. Park visitors can enjoy nighttime attractions such as haunted houses, scare zones, thrilling rides, and more. Fright Fest programming continues through October 31. Visit sixflags.com for additional information.

Aztec Theatre presents "Deon Cole: My New Normal"
Actor and comedian Deon Cole comes to Aztec Theatre for one night of major rabble-rousing and humor. The Black-ish star and seasoned stand-up comedian makes the stop in San Antonio in support of his My New Normal tour. In addition to his appearances on television, Cole is also known for his comedy specials, including Charleen’s Boy on Netflix. Get tickets on Live Nation.

Saturday, September 23

Ballet San Antonio presents "Ballet in the Park"
Art in motion is set against the backdrop of the night sky at this special Ballet San Antonio event. "Ballet in the Park" is a two-part evening that includes a free children’s ballet class and a live performance by the company’s professional dancers. Admission to the show is free and open to the public.

Hill Country Council for the Arts presents Boerne BierFest
Venture out to Boerne for a day of Texas beer with German-inspired festivities at the Agricultural Museum and Arts Center. BierFest highlights include live music from headliner Gary P. Nunn, traditional strength competitions, a live auction, art displays, food, and more. Attendees will also get to sample from more than 30 Texan craft breweries with a commemorative tasting stein. Festival information and ticketing details can be found at hccarts.org. For those looking for an elevated experience, VIP packages are also available.

Maluma / Facebook

Maluma performs live at the AT&T Center on September 21.

San Antonio foundation pounces on bold program to return ocelots to the wild


In Texas, wildlife conservation is far from a simple equation. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, over 93 percent of the state is privately owned, including vital habitats for big cats. Balancing protection measures with the desires of landowners requires a deft hand.

Still, one San Antonio nonprofit is hoping it has found the right formula for ocelot recovery. The East Foundation, a local ranching operation and agricultural research organization, is proposing the Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, to support reintroducing species into the wild. A 30-day public comment period began September 15.

Following the proposal, the East Foundation will release ocelots onto a section of its San Antonio Viejo Ranch in Jim Hogg and Starr Counties — an area marked as unoccupied ocelot habitat. Landowners in neighboring counties can voluntarily sign up to allow the cats passage on their acres, exempting them from future conservation activities.

Working with the Recover Texas Ocelots project, East Foundation has assembled large amounts of data on ocelots, ranging from prey habits to behavior with other carnivores. This research informed the organization's conservation strategy.

The need for protection is dire. The distinctively spotted wild cats have been officially listed as endangered since 1982. The state's sole breeding populations live in far South Texas, where much land is devoted to ranching.

"The largest population of ocelots remaining in Texas (and, by extension, the United States) occupies East Foundation ranch land in Willacy County," explains Dr. Jason Sawyer, Chief Science Officer for the East Foundation, via a release. Several estimates place that population between 50 and 100.

"So, we have demonstrated that good land stewardship associated with normal ranching activities is not in conflict with ocelot recovery," he continued, "and we want to continue ranching operations while also providing an opportunity to expand these populations."

Plan details and other conservation efforts can be found online. Comments will be accepted through October 16, with full specifics available at the Federal Register.

"The assurances provided in the Agreement offer a path for lasting and effective partnerships that accomplish conservation goals while removing the barriers that have historically impeded these efforts," said Neal Wilkins, Chief Executive Officer for the East Foundation. "We are excited to lead an effort like this in South Texas, where we successfully operate, and where wildlife conservation and ranching have been vitally important for more than 100 years."