The Golden State Warriors are returning to their former home in San Francisco with a plan to build a privately financed arena on the city’s waterfront.
The multipurpose venue would stand on Piers 30-32, just south of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and would open in time for the 2017-18 National Basketball Association season, team owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber said at a news conference today attended by NBA Commissioner David Stern, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and Warriors players past and present.
“This arena is about winning, on the court and for our fans,” said Lacob, managing partner at the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “It’s going to happen. We will be here in 2017.”
The Warriors have played for 41 years at Oracle Arena in Oakland on a lease that runs out in 2017, Lacob said. Its San Francisco land deal provides for long-term leases on the 13-acre pier, envisioned as the arena site, as well as a parcel across the Embarcadero roadway that has previously been considered for condominiums, offices and shops.
The Warriors would pay for seismic and structural improvements to the pier, estimated at $75 million to $100 million, and could use proceeds from developing the parcel to offset costs, Jennifer Matz, the city’s development director, said in an interview.
Specific design and land-use plans still must pass environmental review by the city and the California State Lands Commission. That panel chairman is Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, who spoke in support of the project.
The San Francisco Giants baseball team, which privately financed a nearby stadium that opened in 2000, “have proven that it can be done very well,” Lacob said before an invited crowd that included San Francisco’s police and fire chiefs, former Warriors player Nate Thurmond and former coach Al Attles, who led the franchise to the NBA title in 1975.
Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment Group, likened the San Francisco arena concept to a “21st century campfire,” with technology connecting spectators to action on the court. Arenas that seat as many as 20,000 spectators have proven successful around the NBA because they can also host entertainment and conventions as well as sports events, Stern said.
“That would be huge for San Francisco,” Stern said in an interview.
City officials believe improving the decrepit pier won’t exceed $100 million because of a seismic and structural analysis “suitable for a gold-plated project” that was done by Oracle (ORCL) Corp.’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison in connection with a possible venue for the 2013 America’s Cup, Matz said.
The Warriors won two championships playing in Philadelphia between 1946 and 1962, and Wilt Chamberlain set an NBA record by scoring 100 points in one of the team’s games against the New York Knicks in the final season. The franchise relocated to San Francisco in 1962 and Oakland in 1971. The 1975 championship team included Hall of Famers Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes.
The Warriors went 23-43 this past season, the third-worst record in the Western Conference.