Warriors announce plans to move to SF

May 22, 2012 7:42:28 PM PDT
San Francisco may be losing the 49ers, but they are gaining another professional sports team. The Golden State Warriors made it official Tuesday -- they are leaving Oakland and plan to build an arena along San Francisco's waterfront.

"This has been a remarkable journey for us," Golden State Warriors CEO Joe Lacob said.

Just 18 months ago, Lacob and his business partner Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors. Tuesday, with much pomp and circumstance, and with NBA Commissioner David Stern looking on, they announced a move across the bay.

Mayor Ed Lee says now the hard work begins.

"I'm very committed; this is, in my opinion, my signature legacy," Lee said. "I'd like to get this done for the whole Bay Area and future generations."

What's envisioned is a $500 million, state of the art, high tech arena for basketball, concerts and conventions. It will sit at the tip of piers 30-32, just down the Embarcadero from the Giants ball park.

The owners say investors are already lined up to privately finance the project.

But still in San Francisco, there are always roadblocks and political challenges.

"There are risks; there are always risks when you do anything like this," Lacob said. "This is a very big project. This is a massive gamble."

The city believes the facility will create thousands of new jobs and bring in revenue from a boom in businesses around the arena. But what many fans want to know is will the move attract big name players to create a winning team.

"This is an incredible location and makes us that much more enticing when you talk about the rest of the sports world," Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson said. "The commitment is winning."

Former basketball superstar and now team executive Al Attles is part of Warriors history, from Philadelphia to San Francisco, to Oakland.

"Someone told me years ago, the reason they were named Golden State Warriors because they always envisioned coming back to San Francisco; maybe that's what's happening now," he said.

But Guber made no mention of the team having any intention of changing their name, pointing out that the commemorative pin marking Tuesday's announcement still said "2017 Golden State Warriors." he says he will be wearing the pin when the new arena opens.

Oakland says the deal's not done

Oakland city leaders say that they were not shocked by Tuesday's announcement and that they're not giving up. They also caution, that before anyone leaves the table, they intend to make sure the bill is paid.

"I think it's going to kill the fan base," Warriors fan Mike McGhee said.

McGhee is disappointed by the teams plan.

"I think when they first bought the team, that was their whole intent, moving to San Francisco," McGhee said.

Some think the game's not over yet.

Oakland Chamber Of Commerce President Joe Haraburda cautions, excitement is one thing, reality is another.

"Takes a lot of time, a lot of money, and will it pencil out as a good business decision? I think that remains to be seen," he said.

City Hall is still dreaming of a new sports complex called Coliseum City. They've already committed millions to the development. Their reaction has the tone of "We'll believe it when we see it." An assistant city administrator issued a statement saying, "In the end, we will leave a space for the Warriors after they are exhausted from CEQA litigation and cost increases required to be on the San Francisco Waterfront."

City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente also sits on the Coliseum Board, the Warrior's current landlord. (The Warriors' lease ends in 2017.)

"I think our job now is to make sure that they live up to the obligations when it comes to the city of Oakland," he said.

In 1996, $100 million was spent to remodel the arena for the Warriors. Still unanswered is how that debt will be paid if the team leaves.

"Then they become responsible for the portions of those," De La Fuente said. "So, too early to tell, but definitely it's not like they're just going to close the door and walk away to the other side and forget about Oakland, it's not going to happen."

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority will have to approve any changes to the original agreement made with the Warriors. The full board is scheduled to meet June 15.

Carolyn Tyler, Nick Smith and Mike Shumann contributed to this story.


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