Here is a link to my Thursday column arguing the Warriors do not need a new arena in San Francisco. The full column appears below:
Maybe you missed this one. The Warriors recently admitted their new San Francisco arena, their Taj Mahal by the Bay, won’t be ready for the 2017 season as originally projected. They said it could be ready a year after that. Or not.
The “not” is a terrific option. The Warriors do not need a new arena, and San Francisco sure doesn’t need one, either.
Let’s talk arenas and stadiums. Let’s talk like grown-ups because this is a grown-up topic. Some teams need new places for their fun and games. The Giants played in an old wind tunnel fans hated. Sure, the Giants needed a new place and finally got one, lovely AT&T Park.
The 49ers played in the same dump as the Giants and they needed a new place and eventually got one — although I can’t help wishing their new place was in San Francisco. Never mind.
So far the operative word is “need.”
The A’s need a new place — they’ll probably have to work that out with the Giants. And the Raiders need a new place. We all know that. We get it. Candlestick wasn’t suitable and the Oakland Coliseum is a dump with plumbing problems.
But this Warriors’ thing is entirely different. Show us the need. Please show us the need. Oracle Arena already was made over once. It’s an admirable place. Has luxury boxes. Has great sight lines. The Warriors have sold out 61 games in a row. On their website they invite fans to buy tickets and be part of the 62nd consecutive sellout tonight. Please check it out. The Warriors are a smashing success in Oakland.
For this, the Warriors need a new arena?
It’s easy to reach Oracle Arena. It’s right next to Highway 880 and the parking lots are vast. BART takes riders right to the arena. This is a dream scenario.
Plus the Warriors have one heck of a practice facility in downtown Oakland — right on top of the convention center. I know about the practice facility because I’ve been there a million times. It is big and comfortable and has every amenity for the players.
So there is no “need” in the Warriors alleged need for a new venue.
I’ll tell you what there is — greed and vanity.
From the moment Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors, they’ve exhibited an extreme case of San Francisco envy. You feel sorry for those guys and wish they would seek appropriate psychotherapy. When they bought the team, they announced their new ownership in San Francisco. When they hired coach Mark Jackson, they introduced him in San Francisco. They kept running to San Francisco on the slightest pretext. It was kind of comical, this Oakland team being San Francisco obsessed. (Note: I live in Oakland. Factor that into your response to my column.)
Then Lacob and Guber tried to fast-track their new arena, obviously disregarding how long it took the Giants to get AT&T Park built. The Warriors guys thought they were different. They knew what other people didn’t know. They enlisted the help of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee who has called the nonexistent arena his “legacy project.” Lee seems like kind of a tool in all this.
But it hasn’t been easy for Lacob and Guber. They never understood what Bay views mean to San Franciscans, a big arena blocking views from the Embarcadero. San Franciscans don’t just give those views away, not for an arena by some — may we use the term interlopers?
San Franciscans noticed the arena wasn’t the entire deal. There would be a hotel tower. There would be a condominium tower. That’s a lot of towers. Those towers also would ruin views for residents. In addition to basketball, this always was about real estate and development and Lacob-Guber making a lot of dough.
There used to be one cogent argument for the Warriors getting a snazzy new place in San Francisco. Free agents wouldn’t come to Oakland. Oakland was Nowheresville. The Warriors needed to be called San Francisco as opposed to Golden State — ugh! — to attract blue-chip free agents so they could become a good team.
Before this season, they got Andre Iguodala, certainly a blue-chip player. It’s not like Iguodala said, “Sorry, you don’t play in San Francisco. I’m not signing.”
The Warriors are a very good team, an attractive team with a coach players like — give Lacob a ton of credit for all that. Players want to play for a winner with a likeable coach. They already do that in Oakland.
There’s something else. Imagine a night game during the week. People are pouring into the City for a game while people are pouring out of the City after work. We’re talking gridlock. We’re talking a mess. Does San Francisco need this?
Lacob said on TV the other night he’s now aiming for his new arena to open in 2018, although that seems wildly optimistic. Right now, it would cost $180 million to fix the crummy piers the new arena would rest on. In four years, it will cost a lot more. Can Lacob afford that?
The Warriors have choices. They can pursue this ego-driven real estate deal to its bitter end — emphasis on bitter. They could go in with the Giants and try to erect a place near AT&T Park. The Warriors likely would be junior partners in that arrangement, and may not like that. Or the Warriors can stay put in their current, highly desirable location and work hard at building a champion, something they already are doing.
This issue likely will go before San Francisco voters in June. Me, I hope San Franciscans vote it down.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.