SBD/April 23, 2014/Facilities

Warriors' Waterfront Plan Could Have Faced Years Of Delays; Execs Talk New Site

A federal review on the old site could have taken three to five years
One of the final roadblocks the Warriors faced with their prospective arena on Piers 30-32 before they abandoned the site was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' "demand for yet another environmental review, which could have delayed the already shaky project for years," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Sources said that the Warriors "learned three months ago that the Army Corps had made a regional, staff-level decision" that the $1B waterfront arena project "needed a federal as well as a state environmental review -- a process that can take three to five years" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/23). The Warriors yesterday formally announced they have purchased land in the Mission Bay area for a new privately-funded 18,000-seat venue, and team President & COO Rick Welts said of the new site, "I would not say it’s better. It’s an equally terrific site. What it presents in being an inland site and on private property we have just uncomplicated the deal tremendously. That was an important aspect in making the switch. Obviously this is not over the water, which takes it out of the regulatory oversight." He added, "It had always been out there, but not on the top of the priority list" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/22). Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob noted S.F. might be the biggest city in the U.S. "that doesn’t have a facility like this, and it will now. It will have a great concert venue and a great basketball venue. We will be able to do conventions. UCSF is going to be across the street, maybe they’ll do things there as well. Whatever number of dates we fill up, we are going to manage this and own it ourselves, so we’ll have great flexibility in terms of what we want to do there, how we run it, customer service" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/22).

SHOULD BE AN EASIER PROCESS: The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami said the arena "has a real chance of being built" at the Mission Bay site, while Piers 30-32 was "going to be a lot of hoops to jump through." He said, “We’ll see how much debt they are going to go into, we’ll see how much money they want to put forward themselves, but I do believe this is a just a normal process, not the one that they were looking at which was going to be five different hoops going at once, jumping through flames” (“Yahoo Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 4/22). A S.F. CHRONICLE editorial states by "switching from a contested spot on Piers 30-32 to empty land in Mission Bay, the team is minimizing public opposition and regulatory hoops." The revised plan also "takes the city out of the financing game -- another potential source of resistance." The Warriors' "course correction suggests the team ownership is listening, and learning what it takes to win over a city that can play tough defense against any new development -- but especially one on its cherished waterfront" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/23). 

THE LONG GOODBYE: Lacob addressed the team's impending move out of Oracle Arena in three years and said, "I think people knew we were going one way or the other." He said the team recognizes there are "great fans in Oakland," which is why ownership "poured money into the arena and will continue to do so until we move." Lacob: "There are three teams sitting at the Coliseum site right now, all with old facilities; we looked at it and said, 'Can all three teams succeed there?' Very likely not. We didn't want to be the last one standing. So what I think that we did is actually a good thing. I mean, I know fans won't understand that, but it's a good thing because it gives a better chance for the A's and the Raiders, for one of them or maybe two of them to succeed in the East Bay" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/22).

COULD RAIDERS BE NEXT? In Oakland, Matthew Artz notes to the "surprise of city officials, the Raiders missed a 5 p.m. Monday deadline to submit a Letter of Interest in working on a project to transform the 132-acre Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment hub with new sports stadiums." While the Raiders' hesitation "isn't a deathblow to the multibillion dollar project," their "failure to meet the deadline raises fresh doubts about the project's viability." Oakland City Council member Larry Reid said, "I'm very concerned about it. The question is where do we go from here." By failing to "issue the Letter of Interest, the Raiders appear to be hedging on building at the Coliseum complex, where a proposed football stadium already faces" at least a $500M shortfall (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/23).
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