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Warriors not champs but still shooting for new SF arena

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Chase Center, the Warriors’ highly anticipated waterfront arena in San Francisco, is on pace to open for the beginning of the 2019-20 NBA season. (Courtesy Chase Center)

The Warriors may have fallen to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but they’re still hoping to advance to a new arena in San Francisco.

After hearing arguments Friday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong is expected to rule within the next month on consolidated lawsuits challenging the validity of The City’s approvals for the arena, named the Chase Center, on 11 acres at Third and 16th streets in Mission Bay.

Talks of building a Warriors arena in San Francisco began years ago. The team initially eyed Piers 30-32 as a possible location, but as the franchise readied itself for a long fight over the publicly owned site, a new property became available in spring 2014, just months shy of voters approving a proposition that requires additional scrutiny of waterfront projects.

That’s when the team purchased the Mission Bay site from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

Late last year, the Board of Supervisors approved plans to build the arena in Mission Bay, across the street from the three new UC San Francisco hospitals. The project last year also received support from various city commissions.

But as the Warriors put together a record-breaking season, their battles would continue off the court. In January, the Mission Bay Alliance, led by a group of former UCSF officials, filed a lawsuit alleging the arena will have devastating traffic impacts on the emergency services at the nearby hospitals.

UCSF, however, has endorsed the arena after city officials agreed to millions of dollars in transportation improvements, including more Muni light rail vehicles and traffic officers, with revenue from the arena.

“We believe that they broke environmental laws as well as city zoning laws,” said Sam Singer, a spokesperson for the Mission Bay Alliance. “There’s a lot riding on this judge’s decision, because this could inevitably send the Warriors all the way back to square one.”

Despite the lawsuit, P.J. Johnston, a spokesperson for the arena, said plans are still on track to build a state-of-the-art stadium in San Francisco that will open for the beginning of the Warriors’ 2019-20 season.

National support also appears to be gaining ground for the Warriors to move across the Bay.

“I’m very supportive of [Warriors co-owners] Joe [Lacob] and Peter [Guber] and Rick Welts and their desire to move the franchise to San Francisco,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters earlier this month. “I’m pleased it would remain in the Bay Area. I know they’ve had fantastic support here from Oakland.”

Silver added that it’s time for the Warriors to play their home games in a world-class arena.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that they need a new arena in this market,” Silver said. “The project has been presented to me several times in San Francisco, and it seems like it will be yet again the best of its kind. I’m very supportive of them doing it.”

In addition to the arena, restaurants, cafes, offices and public plazas are planned for the site, as well as a new five-and-a half-acre public waterfront park. Earlier this month, the team announced Bay Area-based architecture firm Gensler will design the interior of Chase Center. Eric Bresler, who has decades of experience in venue management in the sports and entertainment industry, was also named the arena’s executive director this month.

“It’s going to be a gathering place all of its own, not just during concerts and games and events,” said Johnston, the arena spokesperson. “We’re not at the stage of signing on specific retailers yet, but that will certainly come.”

The lawsuits are not expected to delay the Warriors from opening the arena. State law requires the cases and any appeals be resolved within 270 days because Gov. Jerry Brown designated the arena an environmental leadership development project.

Wong’s ruling is expected by July 18.

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  • 101

    Sounds like the multi billionaires who belong to the Misson Bay Alliance have sour grapes. They are mad because the Warriors outbid them for the land. This project should move forward as expeditiously as possible and open for the 2019-20 season. Leave the liberal progressive politics out of it.

  • sfparkripoff

    The lawsuit was filed by a San Francisco resident whose six-year-old son, was born with a congenital heart defect. Her fear is that game time traffic to the Warriors arena, located 1,000 feet from UCSF Children’s Hospital, could block life-saving care for thousands of sick children who need urgent care.

    Despite the dangers, Mayor Lee and San Francisco officials rushed the approval process and denied the public meaningful participation or independent review. When the city published its Final Environmental Impact Report on October 23, 2015, it gave members of the public just 10 days to review 2,500 new pages of information before finalizing the document.

    In their haste, City officials decided to conduct no review of issues
    like land use, biological resources, geology, or hazardous materials —
    instead relying on the analysis from outdated environmental documents prepared for the 1998 Mission Bay Redevelopment Plan.

    Dozens of concerned citizens spoke out against the arena project in a hearing before the Board of Supervisors on December 8, 2015, and hundreds more sent letters criticizing the project to the Board of Supervisors. Among its detractors are UCSF faculty members, staff and Children’s Hospital nurses who are concerned about traffic, patient care, and access to the emergency care center and prenatal facilities.

  • SF Guest

    Not surprised. City officials’ main objective is always how much revenue the stadium will bring in regardless of environmental or traffic impacts.

    One problem with the Mission Bay location is access to this corridor is constrained to 3d St. or 16th St. and is less than a mile away from Pac Bell Park. This entire corridor will be gridlocked during a Giants PM game, and Muni won’t be able to handle it.

  • George Llanes

    You’re seriously misguided. Since you don’t live in the area, you have no idea how important Children’t hospital is to that region. If one child dies because of gridlock during the game, than the warriors have blood on their hand. You simply do not build a major sports complex right next to an important medical facility that serves life and death situation for the community. You just *do* *not* do that. Common sense. They’re making plenty of money in Oakland – don’t kill children for a new arena.

  • Darksoul SF

    I think they just mad because they outbid them. Live in SF or not…its correct that they just mad… and San Francisco should make a only emergency road way. About Traffic its going be increased…just like SF General …they got grid locks to but they were able manage it. SF General get many more visitors and they got traffic coming from the freeway… everyday

    UCSF 16th street would have heavy traffic only during game days.

  • muscleinabmw

    NOT NEXT TO A HOSPITAL……….seconds count and on game day or concert day…….YOUR LOVED ONE WILL NOT MAKE IT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM……this is just common sense…………NOT NEXT TO A HOSPITAL!!!!