Warriors talk arena with fans, residents

In case you haven’t heard, the Warriors have this grand plan to move to San Francisco in 2017. They seem pretty excited. City and state officials appear to be gung-ho about the idea.

They’ve got this magical dream of a shimmering waterfront arena along the Embarcadero on Piers 30-32.

Some fans love the idea. Others, in Oakland and San Francisco, hate it.

To help ease any concerns fans and residents might have, the Warriors gave their fans a chance to ask questions to some of the key people involved in the project in a public “telephone town hall” on Monday night.

Warriors president and COO Rick Welts was joined by lead architect of the arena Craig Dykers, and Jesse Blout, a project manager for the Warriors.

Oakland residents don’t want to see their beloved Warriors leave their city. They don’t want their more popular brother across to The Bay to steal the team they’ve called theirs since 1971.

San Francisco residents are unhappy about the prospect of an arena blocking their view, and the traffic nightmare a stadium in that location would cause.

Most, if not all, of the questions came from San Francisco residents.

Welts started the Town Hall meeting with some opening remarks:

“As many of you know, we are proposing to bring the Warriors back to San Francisco. Our team played in San Francisco in the 60’s and we’ve always had a tremendous following in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We see this as a great opportunity for the city. This venue, this entire project will be privately financed. The Warriors are not asking the city for any money from new taxes for this project.”

The first question came from Jane, a resident of Telegraph Hill and she wanted to know if the arena host other sporting events. Welts answered:

“This is in every sense a true multi-purpose venue. The other days of the year will be spent hosting other sporting events, concerts of all kinds, family shows and it will also fill a void in the city convention and visitor portfolio.”

Emilio, a resident of Potrero Hill asked Welts about the smaller capacity of the proposed arena:

“We are anticipating right now a capacity of 17,500 for a sold out Warriors basketball game, a little more than 1,500 seats smaller than Oracle Arena. We think it’s a terrific size for creating the type of atmosphere and intimacy while maintain a size that is appropriate on the site.”

Sue, a resident in the Richmond District asked about the impact on MUNI, BART and other public transit and environmental impact of the arena. Blout responded:

“We believe very strongly that this will actually be a positive benefit to the ridership of those various agencies. One of the reasons we chose this site is its central location to all public transit. In many ways, it couldn’t be better located in terms of its transit access standpoint.”

Dykers, the project architect, said stabilizing the piers would diminish the effects of erosion along The City’s waterfront:

“Piers 30 and 32 are currently in a state of decay and they are kind of crumbling at a certain level and one of the reasons for doing this project is to stabilize the piers which in fact will be affected by the changing sea levels in the future.”

Alan, a resident of Pacific Heights, wanted to know about prices of seat licenses. Welts said those decisions have not yet been made:

“… we’ve made the commitment to all existing season ticket holders that you’ll have first opportunity to obtain seats in the new facility. We are very cognizant of the fact that our goal is to have 17,500 people cheering for the Warriors every night. We want to make sure we are not pricing fans out.”

Franco, a resident of the Richmond District, asked about the economics of the arena. Welts underscored the private financing of the arena and the absence of public funds or subsidies:

“We think this is a extraordinary site and justifies the extraordinary investment the ownership group is making. It’s very unusual, as you know, to have a facility of this to type being built without major subsidies of public funds. The Warriors commitment is that this project will be completed with private financing.”

Bill, a resident of the South Park area, expressed concern about displacement of local businesses like Red’s Java House. Welts told him not to worry:

“If you enjoy a cheeseburger at Red’s as much as I do, you’ll understand that one of the basic tenants of this project is that Red’s lives on.”

Ron, a Hill Plaza resident, was curious about a possible maritime theme and the parking situation. Welts told him neither parking or transit should be a problem:

“Our analysis shows 16,000 public parking spaces within a 20 minute walk of the site. One of the very main attractions of this site is the proximity to public transportation. The MUNI stop is literally 100 feet from the site. The Embarcadero BART is a short walk from the site.”

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