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.