For the first time since the 2006-2007 season, the Golden State Warriors are a competitive franchise, and fans are some of the most loyal and dedicated in the NBA. Warriors ownership, keen on taking advantage of the team's current quality, has embarked on an ambitious plan to build a state-of-the-art, billion-dollar arena on the San Francisco waterfront. While the plan is admirable, the goal of a new arena by 2017 is quickly becoming a daunting task. Several physical, legal, and competitive issues have arisen, making the project more complicated than initially foreseen.
The current plan is to build a $1 billion, 17,500-seat arena on Piers 30-32 in San Francisco, just south of the Bay Bridge. The land is currently used as a large parking lot and is also home to the famous Red's Java Hut. The concept art of the proposed arena is stunning, mixing modern architecture into the bayside setting. The venue could potentially host more than 200 events per year and become a center of culture and entertainment for the San Francisco Bay Area.
The design in the always form-focused San Francisco has already proven to be a hot-button issue for many. The 13-story arena would block views of the bay for several already existing buildings and structures. While the Warriors intend to build a piece of architecture that would rival other famous waterfront buildings like the Sydney Opera House, Save the Bay, an organization dedicated to preserving San Francisco's view of the bay, is opposed to the new arena. Former San Francisco mayor Art Agnos said, "We have to protect our precious asset. To put that structure over the water and destroy the advances that we've made in that part of the city would be an abomination."
In addition to aesthetic considerations, the logistics of such a building on the crumbling Pier 30 and Pier 32 are troublesome. The area needs a great deal of retrofitting for such a large structure, and the current use as a parking lot has led to a major amount of deferred maintenance on the existing area. The original location of the arena was to be on the southeast corner, jutting as far into the water as possible to preserve views. Recent redesigns, however, have moved the arena's location to allow a cruise ship or aircraft carrier to potentially dock at the facility, therefore complying with certain regulations requiring maritime use and enhancing public access.
The San Francisco Giants, tenants down the street from the potential building site, have expressed worry about the Warriors and their new facility. Officially, the Giants are worried that the new Warriors Arena would increase traffic and decrease accessibility to AT&T Park. While this is a valid concern, it is believed that the Giants' true feelings are more due to fear of competition for sponsorships and nearby developments. For a time, the Giants hoped to build their own arena next to AT&T for concerts and other entertainment. The Giants have publicly suggested that the Warriors build their arena near Pier 50, south of AT&T, though no such changes by the Warriors have been addressed.
Building a new arena in the heart of the Embarcadero would be a tremendous boon to the Warriors and the local economy, but the process of doing so has already proved arduous for the Warriors and their owners.
Jared Feldman is a Bay Area native and resident, as well as a devout Golden State Warriors Fan.
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