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Arts & Culture

Alamo Breaks Ground On New Exhibit Hall And Collections Center

Local and state officials turned out on Davy Crockett's birthday on Tuesday to break ground on the planned $13 million Alamo Exhibit Hall and Collections Center.

The two-story limestone building with 10,000 square feet will display the best of the Alamo Collection and the Phil Collins Collection.

The were speeches from local and state leaders, like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who pledged hundreds of millions of dollars towards redevelopment of the Alamo and its battleground footprint.

"I don't want this project to wait on having to raise two or 300 million," Patrick said of private fundraising efforts for the project. That's a big lift. Doesn't mean we don't want people to help, but we're going to get the job done."

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the funding pledge from Patrick is important to the project that will also include a new visitor center and museum across from the front of the Alamo.

"It's going to require vested commitment from all parties, and that includes the state, the city and now the county," the mayor said.

Officials with the Alamo and elected leaders say the $250 million total makeover will mean a bigger experience for tourists and tell a more diverse story of the Alamo, which County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores is committed to seeing through.

"We need to tell the full story of what happened on this land from the Indigenous perspective, to the Black perspective, to Latino perspective, and including the white perspective," she said.

Clay-Flores said she did not think the groundbreaking event was diverse.

"When I look at this event in terms of who was invited, who was in the audience, who the speakers were, it really lacked diversity to represent San Antonio," she said.

Construction on the Exhibit Hall and Collections Center begins in September. Completion is expected in 2022.

The total Alamo grounds makeover will not be completed until 2025.

County Commissioner Trish DeBerry said the Alamo is a big economic driver locally and for the state.

"An estimated $12 billion in economic impact, about 8,100 jobs and $600,000 in sales tax revenue, so I mean this is a big stimulus for economic and cultural tourism," she said.

DeBerry said the Alamo and nearby River Walk are the state's top two tourist attractions.

British rock musician Phil Collins has donated his private collection of artifacts to the Alamo. Patrick said he and Collins are the same age and grew up in the 1950s watching Disney TV shows about the Alamo and John Wayne's "The Alamo" in 1960, which began their life long fascination with the mission-turned fortress.

The Phil Collins Collection includes a field sword and scabbard that belonged to Mexican President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, who launched a final assault on the Alamo defenders on March 6, 1836.

According to the Texas Historical Association, 189 defenders were killed.

Santa Anna is said to have attacked with 1,800 troops, with 600 killed and wounded.

The Collins Collection also includes David Crockett's Kentucky long rifle, a Mexican cavalry helmet and an original Alamo muster roll from January 1836.

State Land Commissioner George P. Bush was also in attendance at the groundbreaking and thanked Collins for his collection.

Collins was not in attendance, but state officials expect him to be present for the opening of the exhibit hall and collections center in 2022.

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