Plan beckons big-name acts

While San Francisco enjoys a reputation as a center for arts and entertainment, it often loses its chance to host big-name acts and some sporting events to other Bay Area venues including Oracle Arena in Oakland or HP Pavilion in San Jose, because those venues can fit more fans, according to city officials.

That could change as a result of a proposed plan to build a 10,000- to 15,000-seat arena at Candlestick Point, a plan that’s been overshadowed by talk of building a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers nearby, at the site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

The largest indoor space in The City is the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, which fits 8,000 spectators, according to Bob Davis, executive director of the Entertainment Commission.

“We’re looking [to see] if we can build a larger-capacity arena down there,” Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner on Friday. “Personally, I’d like to see that happen because I think we’d be missing a great opportunity.”

Davis said a 20,000-person venue, roughly the size of New York City’s Madison Square Garden, would be ideal, because big events lead to more fans peeling off to spend more money in the surrounding area. “[Booking agents] don’t look at San Francisco because we don’t have anything like that,” he said.

The Women’s National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have approached The City about bringing in teams, Newsom said.

“They’ve identified us as one of the top markets in the country for a WNBA team,” Newsom said.

The proposed arena at Candlestick Point would not be large enough to attract the NBA’s Golden State Warriors away from Oakland — but more for “regional sports” and “smaller Cirque du Soleil-type” events, Newsom said.

The $1.4 billion redevelopment proposal for Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point shipyard will be on the June ballot. The project promises jobs, commercial and office buildings, parks and open space, and up to 10,000 new homes, 25 percent of which would be affordable.

The ballot measure, Proposition G, has the support of Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, whose district includes the redevelopment area, as well as that of Newsom and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Proposition F, a second ballot measure championed by Supervisor Chris Daly and aimed at the development project, would require 50 percent of the new housing units to be priced at below-market rates. The developer of the project and the Mayor’s Office, have said such a requirement would not pencil out financially, and would kill the deal.

A development proposal by the San Francisco Giants for a 16-acre plot behind the ballpark that is being used for parking also includes a 5,000-seat entertainment hall.

dsmith@examiner.com  

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