SBD/April 22, 2014/Facilities

Warriors Shift Arena Plans To Mission Bay Amid Political Opposition, Rising Costs

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A new Warriors arena is expected to be ready for the '18-19 NBA season
The Warriors have "abandoned their plan to build an arena on Piers 30-32 just south of the Bay Bridge and instead have purchased a site in San Francisco's burgeoning Mission Bay to hold a new 18,000-seat venue," according to a front-page piece by John Cote of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Warriors President & COO Rick Welts said that the team "bought the 12-acre site from Salesforce.com at an undisclosed price in a deal signed Saturday night." The team "plans to have the arena ready" for the '18-19 NBA season. The "shift in location provides the Warriors with predictability and fewer regulatory hurdles." It also "eliminates any need for voter approval." Welts said, "To me, everybody wins here. We never lost sight of the overriding goal, which was to bring the Warriors to San Francisco and build this world-class sports and entertainment venue that the city has never had." Cote notes a "waterfront park is planned across from the arena." The Warriors will "own the site outright, rather than leasing it" from the Port of S.F. The team said that the arena "will be entirely privately financed -- a rare instance of a modern sports venue that would use no taxpayer funds or public land." The Warriors already have spent about $20M "on design, engineering, consultants and other work for building on Piers 30-32." Welts said that "some of that will transfer over." He added that the interior of the arena "will likely remain the same, although the exterior design could change to reflect the new surroundings, including possibly eliminating a public pedestrian walkway and lookout deck that had been planned for the previous site." Cote notes the arena will "remain about the same height, 125 feet in the center -- well below the 160-foot height limit for the property." The team has "yet to decide what else it will seek to build on the 12-acre site." Welts indicated that it "could include office space and retail geared toward arena visitors" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/22).

FUELING THE CHANGE: CSNBAYAREA.com's Monte Poole noted Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob last night conceded that "spiraling costs and political pushback presented too many obstacles to overcome within the desired time frame" for the waterfront site. Lacob said, "It became more difficult and more expensive as time went on. ... We were always -- always -- evaluating Plan B and Plan C." He added of the new site, "We are paying a pretty penny ... but we think it's going to be worth it. We think it's still going to be very, very good. It's got a lot of advantages. And I think it's very doable. And that became a reality that we had to deal with." Lacob said of the new site, "While it isn't as spectacular in terms of its location, it met a lot of other criteria that we thought would be great for the city and great for us, including great public transit" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/21). The S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion said the new site presents a "much more tenable situation" for the team. Killion: "It is closer to freeways. It's closer to public transportation. It would not be years of building." Piers 30-32 were "never going to work." Killion: "They talked a good game, a lot of bluster, but from the get-go everyone said, 'That's not going to happen in San Francisco'" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/21). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto noted the location change "can be regarded as a mild defeat" for Lacob and Warriors co-Owner Peter Guber. But if the goal was "to secure new digs" for the team, Lacob and Guber have "finally taken the first step they thought they'd taken two years ago." It is "not the bridge-side site they wanted most, but it is also not the site that would have made them unwilling partners with the Giants" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/21).

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: In San Jose, Tim Kawakamai noted Mission Bay is "not far at all from AT&T Park, so I now wonder if they need to have discussions with the Giants (or have had them) to fully capitalize on the proximity and make sure there aren’t bad overlaps while the arena is constructed" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 4/21). But Ratto noted the Giants probably would not get involved and hinder the building because it is "far enough away" from AT&T Park that the team does not have a "great case to make." Ratto: "Secondly, there really are no ordinances that prevent the Warriors from doing this" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/21).
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