July 2014

Neighbors Weigh In on Warriors Arena Move to Mission Bay

Sasha Lekach

When the Golden State Warriors announced that they were scraping plans to build a basketball arena on San Francisco’s waterfront in favor of a Mission Bay location, many Southside residents let out a sigh of relief. Under the team’s latest proposal, an 18,000-seat venue, which had been slated for Port property on Piers 30-32, will instead be built on private land bounded by Terry Francois Boulevard, 16th, Third, and South streets. The initial plans were announced in 2012, and entailed constructing a behemoth structure essentially floating above the Bay, blocking waterfront views, and changing the City skyline.

In April, the Warriors purchased a 12-acre Mission Bay parcel from Salesforce.com as part of a long and hard-sought effort to move the National Basketball Association team to San Francisco and out of Oakland’s Oracle Arena, where the team currently plays.

Although design elements are still being worked out, the site is suitably zoned. If the proposed building is similar to the renderings for the now-scraped waterfront site it should fall within existing height limits and other restrictions.

According to South Beach/Rincon/Mission Bay Neighborhood Association president Katy Ledell, Mission Bay seems like a better fit for the project. She indicated that many association members are “relieved and happy with the change.” The neighborhood’s goal is to “go forward and have a more positive outlook,” she said, while working out concerns, mostly revolving around transportation and quality of life issues. She said the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking into revamping public transit options for the area, which is mostly accessible by the lone T-Third Metro line. She’s focused on keeping the community clean and safe as large crowds start descending on the area for games, concerts and other events.

Ledell is optimistic about the plan, but conceded she and others are worried, based on experiences dealing with the Giants baseball stadium. “Those of us who live here plan our lives around Giants games,” she noted. She expects the Warriors arena will have a similar impact on residents.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in a video interview from the team’s website that the decision to move the site to Mission Bay came after the team “listened to everyone,” alluding to political opposition for the Pier 30-32 proposal that lead to the Proposition B ballot measure that was approved by 59 percent of voters last month. That measure requires waterfront and all Port property building projects that exceed set height limits to go to a public vote for approval.

Lacob noted that an inland site was more practical, and the land purchase was made with private money, a move for a professional sports team that he called “unprecedented. There’s no public money in this venture,” he said. He also touted the location’s accessibility, high number of parking spaces and proximity to public transportation that drops visitors “right to the front door.”

 Sbrmbna board director and Mission Bay resident Matt Springer said that community members have a “cautious positive outlook.” Mission Bay residents are hopeful that the arena will inject new life into the neighborhood, improve streets and public transit options, but are aware of potential problems, he said. “Anywhere you put a venue like this, you will get gridlock on streets,” noting transit and traffic are top concerns. For neighbors there’s the likely possibility that “their peaceful way of life is shattered,” he said.

Other neighbors and workers who spend time in Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, South-of-Market, and Mission Bay voiced their perspectives on the new arena, which is expected to open in time for the 2018 basketball season. 

Joe Woo, 26, who moved to San Francisco from Seattle three years ago and works in SoMa, is an avid Warriors fan, and eager for the squad to move to a bigger market. “It will attract more folks” and will bring the team back to its San Francisco roots, he said. The team, once known as the San Francisco Warriors, played in the City throughout the 1960s after moving from Philadelphia. “I don’t understand people who say they belong in Oakland,” he said while wearing a bright yellow team T-shirt.

Wade Roush, who has lived on the Dogpatch-Potrero Hill border for nearly four years, thinks the Mission Bay move is “fantastic news. It gives the Warriors a prime spot near an existing sports complex in an increasingly exciting and busy neighborhood. It puts the former Salesforce.com propertywhich is currently little more than a windswept, fenced-off lot—to good use. What’s not to like?” he quipped.

San Francisco native and Warriors fan Jason Barton, who has lived on Potrero Hill’s western slope since 2006, is also optimistic about his team moving closer. “That area was becoming a monolithic UCSF campus without any character. I think something large like the Warriors will be a great contrast.” He jokingly added, “I’m trying to figure out how best to divert money from my son’s college fund to a season ticket fund come 2018. Go San Francisco Warriors!”

Bonnie Baron, 68, who has lived throughout Potrero Hill for the past nearly 40 years, is happy to have the arena nearby, but thinks “it’s a raw deal for the East Bay fans who have supported the team over the years, especially now that the Warriors are playing such exciting basketball.”

Photographer Scott Kline, who has lived in  Dogpatch since 2011, said, “I am a big thumbs up. It will be really exciting to have the arena in the neighborhood. I’m sure there will be some headaches like there were with the hospital construction, but overall it keeps the area moving in a positive direction.”

Potrero Hill resident since 1991, and Warriors season ticket holder since 1974, David Smith said, “I applaud the use of the space. It’s a good place for the arena, and should support a lot more restaurants and commerce in the area, something Mission Bay is lacking right now.”

After living near the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House for more than 20 years, Mark Gettys said he supports the new arena plans. He suggested including ample underground parking in construction plans, along with ground floor retail, or hotel space and housing, “so that it is not a dead block on non-event dates.” He suggested that the Warriors build a green and/or public roof, and that Caltrain add a stop between the San Francisco and 22nd Street stations on event days.

Carole Mclaughlin, an 18th Street resident for 23 years, said “Warriors should be in San Francisco. That site is perfect. I look forward to going to games, since I never went to see them in Oakland.”

View film critic and Hill resident Rick Alber said, “I’ve been accused of being a “NIMBY” focused entirely on protecting my views, but even though this stadium will impact my views from the Hill…I’m all for it.”

Missouri and 16th streets resident Joey DAngelo succinctly stated, “Bring it!” while Trevor Branon, of 19th and Missouri streets, said he’s “super excited to be able to walk to games and concerts. (It) will help make Mission Bay more interesting, too.”

With four and half decades on Potrero’s north slope, Richard Hutson said, “I welcome the Warriors and hope they will build an architecturally attractive structure and keep it below the allowable height limits. There should also be a very specific parking and traffic plan as well as significantly improved (San Francisco Municipal Railway) service to accommodate the crowds.”

Attorney, teacher, and grandmother  Sherry Abrams said she’s concerned about the impact the arena will have on the neighborhood. “As a senior and a person not much interested in basketball, I don’t want to walk too far, and I don’t want to go to the games. To me, an arena will only mean more noise, lights, bad parking, traffic jams, and being unable to get downtown or to the Bay Bridge, and friends in the East Bay who really do not want to fight their way over here. Is there nowhere else to put the Warriors arena?”

Janet Peterson is also skeptical of the Warriors arrival to Mission Bay. “I am very concerned about traffic and parking. There are only a few ways to get on and off Potrero Hill and they are clogged already…”

Dan Redmond shared similar concerns about parking, but when the Warriors start playing in San Francisco in 2018 he’s “looking forward to it.”

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