As the Warriors kick off another exhilarating season, momentum is building for the team’s return to San Francisco and the state-of-the-art arena and entertainment venue they plan to call home by the start of the 2017-18 basketball season. And it’s not just fans who are excited. Last week, more than 350 business leaders joined together with the Warriors’ owners, coaches and players to rally behind the team and its vision for Piers 30-32 at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Warriors Tip-Off Lunch.
The Warriors’ return to our city is much more than a move across the Bay. The team will join the Giants, Bulls and our universities to deliver a more complete roster of sports teams fitting for a city of our size and reputation. There is no doubt that civic pride is amplified by high-performing sports teams, and the Warriors’ return will bring more opportunities for residents and visitors to celebrate San Francisco.
The new Warriors facility will also bring a needed multipurpose venue to our city. Today, San Francisco is overlooked for many high-profile, economy-boosting events such as national political conventions, Olympic trials and world-class concerts because we lack sufficient indoor space to accommodate them. The proposed 18,000-seat arena, with substantial, flexible meeting space, will help fill this void and open up new opportunities for marquee events to come to San Francisco in the future.
Building off The City’s efforts to revitalize the waterfront, the proposed arena design includes a tiered plaza helping to preserve views, provide waterfront access for maritime and recreational uses, and better connect the Bay with The Embarcadero. The project creates more than 6 acres of public open space, taking up more than half of the total development site, and serves as a new landing for fire boats, ferries, water taxis, cruise ships and other vessels needing a deep-water berth.
A project of this size and scope is not without its critics. Some residents living in the area are concerned about traffic caused by the new arena and question whether the waterfront is the best location for the project. Both The City and the Warriors are taking these concerns seriously and are working to study transportation impacts and create a plan to best mitigate them. However, in a transit-first city like San Francisco, it is difficult to make the case that Piers 30-32 — located within a short walk of all major transit systems and ferry landings — is not a well-suited location for the proposed venue.
The economic benefits of the Warriors arena also cannot be overlooked. The $1 billion project will be privately financed by the team and will not require any investment from The City’s general fund. In addition, the Warriors will spend as much as $170 million to rehabilitate the aging piers, important maritime resources that the Port cannot afford to renovate. According to a fiscal analysis recently commissioned by The City, the development will deliver $54 million in one-time fees and taxes during construction, plus another $19 million a year in ongoing revenue once complete. And that’s on top of the 5,000 temporary and 2,800 permanent jobs the project will bring to our city and its residents.
Momentum for the Warriors’ return to San Francisco is building for a reason. It is an unprecedented opportunity to create jobs and invest in our city, while giving San Franciscans more opportunities to celebrate and take pride in this amazing city we all call home.
Bob Linscheid is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.