The Tobin Center-A Blend of Old and New

Published in the La Vernia News on March 31, 2016

A blend of Old and New                                San Antonio’s Tobin Center is a World-Class Venue

RivwerWalk View-2

   In 1926, when the Municipal Auditorium was built, the population of San Antonio was just over 231,000. Today it is a versatile, world-class performing arts facility for the nation’s seventh-largest city. It now seats between 1,738 and 2,100, depending on the seating configuration. In addition to the main venue, the H.E.B Performance Hall, there is also a 295 seat studio theatre, and outdoor 600-seat performance plaza adjacent to the River Walk along with a 30-foot tall video wall.

    The old auditorium was originally built to honor military personnel who died during World War I, and was only one part of the larger Veterans Memorial Plaza that later included veterans of World War II, Korea and Viet Nam.

    In 1981 this facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Ironically, when this designation was announced, the building, that had been ravaged by a fire and was unusable for several years. That same year, San Antonio voters approved $9.1 million for restoration. The renovated auditorium was rededicated in 1985.

   Twenty-three years later (2008) a new effort began with over $150 million from both public and private funds to turn the Municipal Auditorium into a true state-of-the-art venue. The Tobin Center is named for Robert L.B. Tobin, an art patron and philanthropist, who’s generosity to the arts and the McNay Art Institute, in particular, in his hometown of San Antonio, was unparalleled.

   Viewing it today from the street, the iconic domed towers on each side, along with the facade of the Spanish Colonial Revival style of the old auditorium are highly visible and makes for an impressive sight. From the RiverWalk however, the view is totally different. The tall silver articulated metal screened walls that almost hide the original structure comes to life at night when it is dynamically illuminated with integrated LED lights.

Blending old & New

     Now you know the history of the Tobin Center- lets go inside. One of the most fascinating features is the floor transformation. When we visited recently to hear a performance by the San Antonio Symphony, it was a typical theatre setting. However, as we were looking at the website a few days later, we could see a flat floor set up for a large dining venue. What happened to the seats?  How can it go from full seating to flat floor? Ah, we found several youtube videos on how this happens, and we couldn’t believe our eyes. Go to the link below, set your devise for full screen, sit back, and be amazed.

    The HEB Performance Hall, the largest venue within the complex, is so well laid-out that there is not a bad seat in the house. Add state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems and you have the perfect combination. Here is where patrons can enjoy the San Antonio Symphony, and a wide array of performances such as Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Guy, Ballet Alive, and Harry Connick Jr.

   The San Antonio Symphony offers discounts to all Students, active Military, and senior ctizens-65 and over. These tickets are available to purchase starting two hours prior to show time for all H-E-B Pops and Valero Classics concerts. Student Rush tickets are $12.00; seniors and military Rush tickets are 50% off regular ticket prices. These are for unsold seats; large groups may not be able to sit together. For more information, call (210) 554-1010.

     If you can’t make it to an event, free tours are available for groups of 10 or more based on schedule availability (210) 212-0913. It is certainly worth your time to see this magnificent center.

Good To Know

·      Small bags (no larger than 12” x 12” x12”) and purses are permitted. Backpacks are prohibited. An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection. All bags are subject to search.

 ·      Food and beverage are available for purchase at each performance.

 ·      Valet parking can be purchased on line or $20.00 cash upon arrival. Self-parking is available in several area parking lots.

 To view the floor transformation:

OR, Google “Tobin Center Floor Transformation”

 Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

100 Auditorium Circle

(210) 223-3333

Phone Sales - 210-223-8624



   © Harry Perez 2012