In a surprise public announcement, the Golden State Warriors NBA team recently announced their intention to move from the Oakland Coliseum into a proposed new arena at Piers 30-32 on the San Francisco waterfront. In addition to housing the Warriors, the arena would be a concert, entertainment, and convention venue on one of the most prominent sites on the San Francisco Bay.
“Building a world-class, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility will create thousands of new jobs for local residents,” said Warriors co-owner and CEO Joe Lacob.
The redevelopment of Piers 30-32, which are currently used as surface parking just south of the Bay Bridge, has had a checkered past. As recently as ten years ago, developers proposed a cruise ship terminal; that project later foundered during entitlements. More recently, the America’s Cup planned to use the piers but scaled back those plans for financial reasons. That change opened up the possibility for the Warriors’ new arena.
Warrior’s co-owners Peter Guber and Lacob have set forth an aggressive redevelopment schedule. Envisioning two years to permit and entitle the project and another three to build it, they plan to open the new facility in time for the 2017 NBA season. Given San Francisco’s penchant for lengthy reviews and extensive public comment periods, even supporters are questioning that schedule.
Private financing is seen as crucial; the San Francisco electorate would be highly unlikely to approve any type of public funding. According to Warriors spokesperson P.J. Johnston, “The team will build the arena with 100 percent private financing with no impact to the general fund and without reliance on any new taxes.”
Further complicating the project are seismic issues facing Piers 30–32, which have been deteriorating for decades. Estimates for seismic repair to the piers are in the $100 million range and will also be funded by the Warriors.
Highlighting the labyrinthine entitlement process is a multitude of overlapping agencies and commissions including the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Planning Department, Port of San Francisco, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, State Lands Trust, and the State Historic Preservation Office.
Although conceptual renderings of the arena were released, very few details about the arena are in place. According to Johnston, an architect has not yet been selected; sources indicate that Ellerbe Becket (now part of AECOM) is in the running. Presumably, other sports architecture firms such as Populous (the former HOK Sport) or NBBJ are also being considered.