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Warriors Reach San Francisco Arena Deal in Move From Pier

The Golden State Warriors’ new San Francisco arena will host concerts, ice dancing and dog shows to complement basketball games when the 18,000-seat venue opens for the 2018-19 season, team President Rick Welts said today.

The National Basketball Association franchise agreed to buy 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of undeveloped land from Inc. for the arena development following six weeks of “intense” negotiations between Salesforce Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff and Warriors owner Joe Lacob, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Welts said in a telephone interview. The deal was signed Saturday after the team’s playoff win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

“We haven’t had one of these in San Francisco, which is really crazy,” he said of a planned arena, which the team plans to book 200 days of the year for a variety of indoor events. “The overriding goal has been to bring the Warriors back to San Francisco, and we think this is an ideal and wonderful site.”

The land, bounded by Third, 16th and South streets and Terry Francois Boulevard, will replace the waterfront location where the team had proposed a $1 billion arena plan project that included residences and a hotel. The price of the Mission Bay property was more than the $180 million needed to upgrade piers at the previous site, Welts said. He declined to be more specific.

Job Generation

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome the Golden State Warriors back home to San Francisco with a brand new, privately financed arena in Mission Bay,” Mayor Edwin M. Lee said in a statement yesterday. “The new Mission Bay arena will generate new jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue for our city.”

Salesforce, the biggest maker of customer-management software, purchased land in Mission Bay for $278 million with the intention of building a new headquarters before opting to lease space in downtown office towers instead. The shift resulted in plans to sell the parcels, a person familiar with the company’s decision said last month.

Gina Sheibley, a Salesforce spokeswoman, confirmed the land sale, declining to comment further.

The Warriors have played in Oakland since 1971 and are owned by an investor group led by Lacob and Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment Group. The team said two years ago it would move to San Francisco and build an arena at Piers 30-32 near the Bay Bridge, a plan that has been opposed by neighbors and environmental groups who said the development would be too big and lack the maritime uses required under California state law.

Site Criticism

The team had considered Mission Bay before settling on the pier site, then was forced to postpone that plan because of the criticisms. The focus shifted back to Mission Bay when Benioff reached out to Lacob and offered exclusive negotiations for the empty Salesforce parcels, Welts said.

“We’ve taken a lot of truly heartfelt objections from people who felt that building an arena over the water was wrong,” he said.

Critics of the waterfront plan including former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin backed the Mission Bay site during meetings yesterday, Welts said. Peskin said in a telephone interview that he supports the new arena site. Agnos didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The Mission Bay venue will have a different exterior than the pier design and a 125-foot (38-meter) height that’s below the 160-foot limit for the area, Welts said. Plans also call for an undetermined amount of office space, 75,000 square feet (7,000 square meters) of retail and a 5-acre park, Welts said.

Flexible Venue

The interior plan for the Mission Bay facility remains the same and compares with a 19,500-seat capacity at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Warriors currently play, Welts said. The Warriors will account for about 25 percent of annual bookings, assuming about 10 games in addition to the team’s 41 regular-season home dates, Welts said. Architects have created a flexible venue with separate lobbies for music and sporting events, and partitions that can be used for smaller events.

“We think we nailed those elements,” Welts said.

The Warriors won two championships playing in Philadelphia from 1946 to 1962, with Wilt Chamberlain setting an NBA record by scoring 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks. The franchise relocated in 1962 to San Francisco and nine years later to Oakland, where the 1975 team won a championship with Hall of Famers Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes.

The Warriors ownership group includes about 20 investors who are paying for the privately financed arena, Welts said.

“Luckily, paying for this is the least of our issues,” he said.

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