Spurs set attendance record with 68K vs. Dubs

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SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs are hosting the largest crowd ever for an NBA regular-season game in their return to the Alamodome.

The Spurs, celebrating their 50th anniversary season, have returned to their former home to face the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

The team announced that 68,323 were on hand at the Alamodome for the game against the defending NBA champions.

It shatters the previous record of 62,046 who gathered to watch Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls play the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.

“Yeah, that’s pretty different,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the record crowd. “It’s a situation where you know … are they selling alcohol? I think that people will be pretty fired up. It is just an exciting moment for everybody. It is nostalgic for everybody. To have that many people in one building, to be able to play in front of them, is pretty damn exciting, actually. We hope it is a good game.”

San Antonio now plays its home games at the AT&T Center but returned to the Alamodome as part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration.

While the Spurs (13-29) are having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the chance to play at the Alamodome gave fans a chance to relive a former era for the team.

“Having my son here with me sharing a past and present memory will be cherished by both of us for years,” said Spurs fan Eric Hernandez, who previously attended games at the Alamodome.

The franchise started at the HemisFair Arena in 1973, but the Alamodome is where the franchise took its first steps to becoming one of the most respected NBA franchises.

The Spurs played in the Alamodome from 1993 to 2002 before moving 3.1 miles south to the AT&T Center.

San Antonio won its first NBA championship in 1999 while playing in the Alamodome and held its championship celebration in the downtown facility.

The Alamodome also hosted the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, where Michael Jordan was booed for winning MVP over former San Antonio resident Shaquille O’Neal.

“It’s crazy,” said Taro Kotani, a Spurs fan visiting from Japan. “The amount of people here. I’ve never been inside the Dome, so just imagining what it was like here during ’96 All-Star Game and ’99 Finals is so nostalgic. I wasn’t there but this brings back lots of memories.”

Kotani planned his annual trip to San Antonio around Friday’s game because he wanted to be a part of history.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.