Warriors close to moving team to San Francisco

May 22, 2012 7:23:54 AM PDT
According to ABC7 News and ESPN.com sources, a likely deal has been reached between San Francisco and the Golden State Warriors to move the team to the city. They would likely move to Piers 30 and 32 along the Embarcadero, less than a mile from the San Francisco Giants' ballpark.

ABC7 News has learned an announcement is expected Tuesday morning. It would bring the Warriors back to San Francisco where they first arrived in 1962.

It appeared to be business as usual for the Warriors with the start of pre-draft workouts Monday, and General Manager Bob Myers saying next to nothing about new reports the team appears headed across the bay.

"At this time we're not prepared to make any comments or make any announcements," Myers told reporters Monday.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is putting a full court press on the Warriors' owners, but would not confirm if the deal is done. "We put everything we can and our best foot forward for the Warriors to consider San Francisco and we're going to patiently wait for their decision," he said.

But Shawn Paton says they have confirmed a move to him. He owns Red's Java House right next door to the site where San Francisco is inviting the Warriors to build a new home along Piers 30-32. Paton says he met with the team owners and other executives twice last week and again Sunday.

"They wanted to talk to me about how they're going to put the arena here," Paton said. "They said they are coming. They are definitely coming."

It would be a privately-financed arena just like the Giants ballpark.

"Our approach has been that we cannot use taxpayer money and we've made that very clear," Lee said.

If it all pans out, the plan is for the Warriors to begin their 2017 season along the waterfront. Fans say that's enough time to figure out how to handle traffic. The Embarcadero is already congested on days the Giants play at nearby AT&T Park.

"Probably should expand at least two more lanes on each side for sure. Do something because it's going to be nuts," Warriors' fan Tyler Stevens said.

Oakland reaction

So what would a Warriors move to San Francisco mean for Oakland? Oakland leaders say they're not giving up on the Warriors, and won't, even if team owners confirm they've set their sights on San Francisco. According to one city leader, the San Francisco plan is certainly "no slam dunk."

The very idea of the Warriors abandoning Oakland for San Francisco has Chris Dobbins angry. He's a season ticket-holder and part of a fan group, known as "Save Oakland Sports," determined to keep the Athletics, Raiders and Warriors right where they are.

"They should go to Philadelphia if they want to play that game," Dobbins said. "They've been in Oakland for 40 years. We've gone out there, we've supported the team. Near-sellout for as lousy a product as they've had out on the field. It's very disappointing to hear that they all of a sudden want to just move the team across the bay."

With Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in Las Vegas on business, Oakland's assistant city manager, Fred Blackwell, fielded questions about losing the Warriors, a move that would no-doubt squash the city's plans to build a Coliseum City for all three teams.

"In our last communication with them, we really asked them, straight up, whether or not we were still in this game and they told us that we were," Blackwell said. "So our intent is to continue to work with them."

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley serves on the Joint Powers Authority which oversees the Coliseum. He's also been working with city leaders and community groups to retain Oakland's professional teams.

"I think it builds a lot of good will, it builds commerce and jobs," Miley said. "And I just think it would be utterly devastating to the city should the city lose those three franchises."

Local kids may also lose out if the Warriors leave town. Players past and present often appear at events and fundraisers at Oakland schools.

"They provide motivational speaking to students. They provide tickets to different groups or different classes. They sponsor awards and giveaways at various schools," Oakland Unified School District spokesperson Troy Flint said. "They're obviously a positive civic force and we want to continue that relationship as long as possible."

A Warriors move could cost the team millions of dollars to repay bonds used to remodel the Coliseum Arena in the mid-1990s. If the team moves before 2017, they would have to repay $90 million. If they leave after their lease is up, servicing those bonds could cost as much as $7 million a year until 2026.

An announcement is expected in San Francisco 10 a.m.


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