This Time, Warriors' Return to S.F. Has a Shot
March 25, 2010
The rumor that the Golden State Warriors might move to San Francisco is recycled every few years.
But this time, it has a chance to happen.
Potential buyers of the team have asked the San Francisco Giants about building a state-of-the-art arena in Mission Bay, south of AT&T Park, sources say.
The team is on the verge of finishing an agreement that would give the Giants exclusive negotiating rights with the Port Commission to develop the parking lot behind AT&T Park. So if you want to talk about an arena in what the team is calling the Mission Rock District, you need to speak to the Giants.
The Giants have already mapped out an ambitious plan to develop the area that calls for an urban community with a pedestrian walkway and retail stores extending all the way to the bay. Their proposal even includes a 5,000- to 7,000-seat arena.
Granted, a 20,000-seat arena would be a departure from the current plans, but the land the Giants plan to develop is probably the best and only place in San Francisco for a major arena.
The Giants are militantly silent on the topic, issuing a curt "no comment" when asked about the subject.
But the idea makes too much sense not to consider. It starts with the announcement Monday that current Warriors owner Chris Cohan is willing to sell the franchise. Potential new owners are already lining up. (Don't think the only choice is Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison, who recently expressed interest. A group fronted by NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West is also in play.)
Any new ownership group would be foolish not to look at San Francisco. In the mid-'80s, then-Warriors President Dan Finnane commissioned a study to determine the financial effect of moving to the city. The result was a 30 percent increase in value and revenue.
Today that number would only be higher. The sponsorship opportunities would be much better, the potential for selling premium tickets would be higher, and selling the naming rights to the new arena would be a cinch. In Oakland, after the poor Warriors renovated their arena in 1996, the facility was referred to as (Your Name Here) Arena for years before Ellison's Oracle finally signed up in 2006.
There are some hurdles. The Warriors' current lease with the Oakland-Alameda County Sports Authority expires in 2027. However, there is reportedly an out clause in 2017. It would take a chunk of money, maybe $60 million, to exercise it. But if someone did, seven years to design and build a new facility is just about perfect.
Redesigning the plans for Mission Rock to include a major arena would be difficult, but not insurmountable.
"It's not what was in the proposal, that's for sure," said Jonathan Stern, San Francisco's assistant deputy director for waterfront development programs. "It would be a completely different land use than what has been thought of to date."
The Giants would have to craft an entirely new plan. But if they do, it would have the potential to be a terrific addition to what is currently a parking lot and under-utilized shoreline.
The city should enthusiastically embrace the idea. Not only could the team be the San Francisco Warriors again, as they were from 1962 to 1971, a major new facility would be a boon to downtown. Today, when huge touring performers like Madonna or Barbra Streisand come to the Bay Area, they appear at HP Pavilion in San Jose or in Oakland.
The city has a modest selection of alternatives. There's Masonic Auditorium, which is small and in the midst of a residential neighborhood, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, which has seen better days, and the Cow Palace, which is a great place for a rodeo.
There are questions about the fans, of course.
"My question would be, are you moving away from your fan base?" said Finnane, who is retired.
Long known as one of the league's most loyal, albeit long-suffering, fan bases, East Bay fans would probably be willing to ride BART across the bay. The area is a nexus for public transit. Even after 10 years, the Giants are still able to say that 50 percent of their fans come to AT&T Park by some means other than a car.
There's a long way to go before this happens, but you've got to love the concept. A few years ago, the team printed up the classic jersey from the San Francisco days. On the back was a cable car and on the front it simply said "The City." They weren't talking about Oakland.
C.W. Nevius' of the San Francisco Chronicle
WARRIORS PASS ON GIANTS PLAN TO EXPLORE THEIR OWN VENUE
April 12, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
San Francisco, Calif. - The San Francisco Chronicle says the Golden State Warriors have
shunned an offer from the San Francisco Giants to build an arena on land next to AT&T Park. Instead, the basketball team is quietly exploring plans to go it alone with a waterfront arena at Piers 30-32.
For months, the Giants have pushed the idea of teaming up with the Warriors to build a 20,000-seat arena on the ballpark's parking lot or adjoining Piers 48-50.
But there was hardly a mention of the Warriors when Giants executives unveiled their $1.6 billion plan to convert 27 acres around AT&T Park into a new neighborhood of homes, offices, shops, restaurants and parks.
"This is an ownership group that is pretty bold and visionary, and the prospect of doing something grand is really alluring to them," one source familiar with the Warriors' plans told the newspaper.
The Warriors "do not want the Giants to be their middleman," the newspaper's source said.
Currently, the Warriors are eyeing the 13 acres of concrete and pilings that make up Piers 30-32, the area that at one point was to be the hub of the America's Cup race before regatta organizers ditched those plans.
The city has agreed to put $8 million into shoring up the aging piers, but the site would need an additional $50 million or more in foundation work to handle a major development. That cost has real estate experts questioning whether the arena idea will ultimately pencil out, the newspaper said.
Time is running short for the Warriors, whose lease at Oakland's Oracle Arena expires at the end of the 2016-17 season.
LIST OF POTENTIAL ARENA SITES FOR WARRIORS INCLUDES SAN JOSE
April 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
San Jose, Calif. - Warriors co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are telling people they're
open to all possibilities for a new arena, including taking a look at San Jose, according to a source involved in the discussions that talked with the San Jose Mercury News.
The newspaper said it's not clear if Lacob and Guber are considering HP Pavilion as a home. Previous reports have suggested two sites in San Francisco, including one near the Giants' ballpark.
"More likely, they're thinking that HP could be a temporary home before they - and presumably the Sharks - get a brand-new state-of-the-art San Jose arena at some point in the next 10 to 12 years," the newspaper said.
The Warriors can get out of the Oakland lease in 2017, but they'd have to waive an option, and that would cost them some money, and one source indicates to the Mercury News that all of these things together might lead to a slow down in the Warriors' arena search.
Warriors to Build New Arena, Move Back to S.F.
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
May 22, 2012
The Golden State Warriors are jumping across the bay, with plans for a privately financed, $500 million waterfront arena that would allow the team to play its home games in San Francisco for the first time in more than four decades.
The NBA franchise would leave Oakland for a 17,000- to 19,000-seat arena that would be built on Piers 30-32 near the foot of the Bay Bridge, a short walk from downtown, and open in time for the 2017-18 season.
"It is going to happen - let there be no doubt," Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said Monday.
The arena would also host conventions and entertainment events such as concerts, Lacob said. Plans for the site also include 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
Although the actual design has yet to be worked up, team President and CEO Rick Welts said that "this will be an architecturally significant building, resting on an iconic site."
The crumbling, 13-acre pier is owned by the Port of San Francisco, which now uses it for parking. Under a deal between the team and Mayor Ed Lee's administration, the port would hand the Warriors a long-term lease in exchange for the team building the arena and investing heavily in fixing the pier.
In addition, the team is seeking control of a port-owned, 2-acre lot across the Embarcadero from the pier, which is also now used for parking. The Warriors haven't said what they would do with the land.
The arena and return of the Warriors would be a coup for Lee, who has been looking to ease the pain of the 49ers' impending move to Santa Clara.
Finding a new home for the Warriors has also been a priority for Lacob and fellow owner Peter Guber, who bought the team 17 months ago and want to raise the Warriors' profile nationally and tap into the entertainment market locally.
"We're jumping up and down. ... I just don't see how we can do it better," Lee said Monday in a conference call interview with Lacob, Guber and Welts.
The mayor called it "my legacy project," and said, "I'm going to be on top of it personally."
He added, "To be candid, this takes a little of the sting out of the Niners situation."
Team executives say the model for the deal is the 1996 agreement between the city and the Giants, who were granted a 66-year lease of port land to build their new stadium.
No new taxes
The new arena would not require any money from the city's general fund or new taxes, Lee and team officials said.
"At the end of the day, our investment group is financially responsible for building this," Lacob said. "And it will be done."
The team will have to overcome a number of hurdles, however, before its waterfront arena hosts an NBA game.
For starters, there is the sad state of Piers 30-32, which despite its plural name is actually one dock. The Warriors believe it will cost as much as $100 million to make the pier capable of supporting a massive arena.
The Warriors are proposing to put up all the costs in exchange for a long-term lease to the site. The team hopes to recoup the money eventually in the form of rent credits from the port or other givebacks, and from having sole access to the arena's revenue stream.
And then there is the approval process.
The entire Board of Supervisors co-signed a letter from Lee and the Port Commission earlier this month inviting the Warriors to come to San Francisco. But the city is notorious for a Byzantine commission system that can alter development projects - or hold them up for months on end.
The Warriors have set a tight time frame, hoping to break ground in two years and finish the arena in another three years, when the team's lease at the Oracle Arena in Oakland expires.
"I know the time frame is serious and I know a serious amount of investment is reflected here," Lee said, "and I'm not going to allow anyone to squander the opportunity here."
The new arena will also need approvals from the state Lands Commission and regional Bay Conservation and Development Commission. That means having to show that the project would serve the region and include a maritime element, which the Warriors say could be a new marina, or ferry and water-taxi service to the arena.
The Warriors have brought in two City Hall veterans to help steer the project to approval, Jesse Blout and Michael Cohen, who each served a stint as former Mayor Gavin Newsom's economic development chief. Their resumes include the development project at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
What about parking?
One issue they'll no doubt be dealing with on the arena project is parking - or the lack of it. The Warriors say they intend to provide some parking, but mostly for fans willing to pay a big premium.
For everyone else, the team says 6,000 cars can fit into public and private lots and garages within walking distance of the site. Officials say that's more than usually park now for games at Oracle.
They also say that the Embarcadero BART and Muni Metro station would be as close to the arena as the Coliseum Station is to Oracle, and that the new downtown Transbay Terminal is likely to open about the same time as the arena.
Lee and the Warriors argue that it will all be worth it in terms of construction jobs and a jolt to the local economy.
"It's huge," said Joe D'Alessandro, head of the San Francisco Travel Association. He calls San Francisco the only major U.S. city without an arena that can accommodate everything from concerts to circuses.
D'Alessandro said the business executives who make up his group recently identified a new arena as a top priority, along with an expansion of the Moscone Center. The group said 44 percent of the convention planners it surveyed around the country would be interested in renting an arena.
Oakland loses out
The loser in the deal, of course, would be Oakland - the city the Warriors have called home for the last 41 years, but have never put on their jerseys.
Fred Blackwell, Oakland's assistant city administrator, said the Warriors met with city officials last week and assured them Oakland was still in the running for the team's new home.
"We asked them straight up whether or not we were still in the game, and they told us we were," Blackwell said.
Given all the obstacles the team will likely face in San Francisco, he predicted the fight for the team is far from over.
As for whether the team plans to change its name back to the San Francisco Warriors?
Not right now, Lacob said. And in the long run, "we will do whatever the fans think is right."