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 lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.


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  1. Dennis

    Well let’s start with the fact that the Warriors don’t need show you a need. If they were asking the City of Oakland for a new venue then you would be absolutely correct: show us the need. But they want out of Oakland. Like in they don’t want to be located in Oakland. At the end of the day this is a business decision. For whatever reason they have determined that their asset, the Warriors, would be more valuable in location other than Oakland. That is their need and it is hard to argue with that since it is not our money. My guess is they will ultimately figure it out and relocate in Santa Clara where all the real money is. But in the meantime, if you want to have them stay in Oakland, quit whining and buy the team.

    February 5th, 2014 7:44 pm

  2. Jco

    Mr. Cohn,

    As someone that lives in the peninsula right by HWY 92, I much prefer the Oakland location, but as a fan, I’m happy to have an owner that is both business savvy and has rebuilt the team quickly with a promising future. The Forbes 2013 team valuation fires right into the SF waterfront arena. The Warriors have jumped up in value and that does also play into free agent consideration, if for anything, the owners interest in the well being of the franchise.

    At the cost of having a very good team (this ownership and it’s plans) I understand the owners interest in tapping into the wealthy fans/market, sponsorship opportunities, etc. in San Francisco. I probably won’t attend games but I’m happy to settle for watching a playoff team on my couch.

    My gut tells me the hotel doesn’t happen but they figure other revenue opportunities, such as tv contract. I haven’t been able to find concrete info on the length and value. I’d imagine it wouldn’t be long as the Warriors dropped the lawsuit.

    At any rate, there has been a positive vibe with this team and I’m choosing to believe in ownerships vision. #dubs

    February 5th, 2014 8:55 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    Dennis, I resent the word “whining.” I did not whine. I reasoned. I put forth a point of view. Sometimes you are quite rude.

    February 5th, 2014 10:27 pm

  4. Steve the cat rescuer

    As a resident of San Francisco, I will be entitled to vote for or against this project if it ever happens. I will vote no, for the reasons you list and many more. I voted no on the 49ers stadium, not because I didn’t feel they needed a new stadium but because I resented a billionaire owner wanting my tax dollars to build it.

    February 5th, 2014 11:50 pm

  5. Dan

    I’ve never understood the attraction for a waterfront venue when the games are played indoors at night.

    February 6th, 2014 8:23 am

  6. Brett

    I am with Dan on this one.

    February 6th, 2014 9:46 am

  7. mendozaline

    You called the Warriors owners greedy and vain. I do not see that statement as a reasoned point of view. Where were your reasons to show that their desire to move to SF was not a result of an economic analysis of what was best for their investment? They have a great practice facility in Oakland. Is that the reason they are greedy and vain? I think that when you ascribe those characteristics to the owners you are not stating a reasoned point of view, but you are whining.

    February 6th, 2014 10:14 am

  8. Neal

    That is what business and greed is all about. It is not horrible, but has the look of a very old arena. Why not have a brand new arena and in a much better City then Oakland, if you can afford it. That is like asking a guy who is a multi millionaire and wants to buy a nice house, instead you ask him, let’s stay in Oakland, and live in this dump, it is all you need, it has a bathroom, kitchen and a backyard, why ask for more. Also this team cost a fortune, he probably would like to make more $$, then what he currently making. Don’t agree with you on this.

    February 6th, 2014 10:28 am

  9. CohnZohn

    mendozaline, Aside from what you feel about me and my whining — I suspect we define whinging differently — do you think the Warriors should get a new arena at Piers 30-32 and why?

    February 6th, 2014 10:28 am

  10. Neal

    Your not whining Lowell, you are just trying to be financially responsible.

    February 6th, 2014 10:46 am

  11. mendozaline

    Lowell, since you asked, and since I am the grandson of a New Yorker who voted for Norman Thomas for President, I do not think that the Warriors should get a new arena at Piers 30-32. I think that the Warriors should share the building with the Sharks, the Raiders should share the building with the 49ers and the A’s should share the ballpark with the Giants. Too many billions are being spent on things that do not matter when there is so much that matters that is under-funded. And I know it is private vs public monies. But those private monies are partially offset by lower taxes the owners must pay. Ticket prices and seat licenses go up and only the rich and near rich can afford to go to games. I love the $2 BART days at the Coliseum.

    And I agree that “whining” is not the proper term, it was just the term that was out there.

    February 6th, 2014 11:24 am

  12. Mark M

    The parade out of Oakland continues. I wonder who will be left in 10 years.

    I agree that SF site stinks for a stadium. What an eye sore compared to the sweeping views of the water, Treasure Island and bridge. I just can’t get into the idea plus ticket prices, already horrendous, would only get much worse. No doubt the team’s value would increase but still not worth the price to the city.

    BART is convenient as can be for me so I have no problem with the current location. But that stadium is badly out of date. The sight lines are fine in the lower section but upper deck is horrendous. It’s like catching the game from the rafters and yet ticket prices are still 80$ + for sideline view. Just watching the Warriors play in the Shark Tank in San Jo was an eye opener for me that one season in the late 90s. The place is a much better setup for seeing the game from any cheap seat. Maybe Oakland can swing a two for one deal with local contractors to erect a couple of proper stadiums out there as the location remains a good one.

    February 6th, 2014 11:28 am

  13. Dennis

    mendozaline – right on the mark!

    Lowell, no one is saying anyone should get anything. And that is certainly not what is happening here. The Warriors made a proposal and the City needs to determine if it makes sense for them to accept it.

    The reality from San Francisco’s point of view is that those piers are too expensive to fix without a large real estate development on top of them to support the fixing. Now if the people of the City would rather have the view and let the piers eventually fall into the bay so be it, that is their choice. But, please, do not find fault with the Warriors for making the proposal.

    February 6th, 2014 11:30 am

  14. Chris

    It’s simple… San Francisco is by far a greater city than Oakland! Why wod any ownership group that wishes to make top dollar decide to have their franchise in Oakland over SF??? Nobody comes to the Bay Area to go to Oakland. They go to visit San Francisco. For instance, I have an old army visiting in March who’s never been to California; I asked him where he wanted to visit, and his first choice was SF. I asked him what about Oakland? I have never heard him laugh harder. Point being… Nobody outside of residents of Oakland want to go to Oakland! That’s a fact!

    February 6th, 2014 12:45 pm

  15. CohnZohn

    Dennis, I have my opinion on the Warriors which I shared. You are entitled to yours. I don’t like when you accuse me of whining. I don’t write to you in such a tone. So now I ask you — should San Franciscans vote in favor of the arena for the Warriors at Piers 30-32?

    February 6th, 2014 1:05 pm

  16. Stan

    As I said on the Pt. Richmond post I can add: Lacob can have what he wants from Oakland..but he wants Coit Tower and Transamerica and the Golden Gate Bridge as decorations for HIS stadium. He doesn’t see that a oil tanker like building does nothing for the view to most San Franciscans.
    Let him buy the Cow Palace..or alongside Candlestick. Who cares about wind and fog at night in a basketball stadium?
    Socially this is a case of …A man can revitalize an area for a million people,or just turn his back and make the rich richer.
    Mark Davis and Lacob could own the eastbay,tap into the southbay big money. And yet both are dragging there feet wasting years.
    Put a loooong fishing pier off of the Oakland Complex and call it SF waterfront property if that makes them happy.

    February 6th, 2014 1:24 pm

  17. Dennis

    Lowell, If I have hurt your sensitivities by accusing you of whining I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent. I like you.

    In answer to your question, should San Francisco vote for the arena on the pier, from a selfish perspective, yes they should. I like the Warriors, I like going to basketball games and I don’t like going to Oakland.

    From the perspective of someone who is pretty familiar with the development business, and I also have to believe from a civic perspective, I think pier 30 – 32 is the most under utilized asset in the City. If San Francisco wants to save the pier something is going to need to be developed on it that can carry the cost of repairing it. I could be wrong but I think an arena is probably the lowest profile building you could get that would come close to making the site financially feasible for development. So from that standpoint I think San Francisco should vote in favor. On the other hand if San Francisco doesn’t care about saving the pier then, no, they should vote against it.

    February 6th, 2014 3:08 pm

  18. Jim Bancroft

    Spot on Lowell. As a San Francisco resident I can speak for many residents who think the Warriors should stay in Oakland, at their conveniently located, well-equipped facility, supported by the most loyal fans around.

    Why anyone would tip that apple cart is beyond me, though ego and vanity have a way of leading to poor decisions. This would be one of them.

    San Francisco needs another uber-development, on what would become a traffic chokepoint? No. I’m in favor of the status quo for an indeterminate amount of time.

    In fact it’s almost as easy for me, an SF resident, to get to the Coliseum on BART than to take Muni to this phantom location. The other 90% of the Bay Area would have an even tougher time getting to the Embarcadero than I do. This is an improvement over the current situation?

    Oakland needs the Warriors and has nurtured them. ‘Golden State’ nickname aside, it’s working over there. San Francisco and our clueless mayor should back off.

    February 6th, 2014 4:49 pm

  19. kg

    Ok Lowell point taken…But there is also a flip side to the Arena argument in San Francisco also.

    San Francisco is the only major City in the Bay Area that is without an Arena Venue. That means if we want to catch a concert, take our kids to an Ice Show, have the NCAA Basket Ball Tourney, or to even hold the Democratic/Republican Convention in our City…we can’t do this, because we are lacking the venue. We have to go to San Jose, or Oakland for these events. Once upon a time the Democratic Convention was held at the Moscone Center, but due to the low ceilings, never again!

    So regardless to the Warriors coming to SF, or not, the City needs a Venue/Arena, imvho.

    February 7th, 2014 2:12 am

  20. Brett

    Can you imagine the traffic if there is an event there the same time the Giants are playing?

    February 7th, 2014 9:39 am

  21. dharte

    Come on, Lowell. Do you work now for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce?

    The mere fact that the team even wanted to call itself “Golden State” tells you everything about Oakland, and the organizations view of Oakland. That fact has been an open secret for over 40 years. San Francisco is the City in this region, it’s the only place the best free agents will come (Iguadala is good, but he’s not Labron), and it’s the only place that can compete with LA for marketing dollars and publicity.

    For this team to join the elite of the NBA, not to mention attracting the finest players, Lacob needs a new arena that is not in a war zone and he needs to give his team a real name again. Golden State Warriors is almost as ridiculous as Utah Jazz, and what remains unsaid is what gets under your skin, but that doesn’t change the facts.

    Build the arena. The Giants have revitalized a cesspool of the San Francisco docks (no one went down there at night in the late 80s unless you were looking for drugs), and the Warriors will help the City financially in a way that the 49ers never could: 8 to 10 games a year is no match for 45 or 50, or more. The deal, and this move, just make sense.

    Finally, pretending anyone outside of Oakland actually wants to be entertained there is wishful thinking at best. San Francisco has always been the heart of the Bay Area, it is the only city around here with a national and international profile, and an NBA team needs such status to attract attention. If you think I exaggerate about Labron, or someone of his stature coming here, one word: China. The marketing options for a title contender in San Francisco are almost limitless for the stars of a San Francisco team. do kid yourself that Oakland has the same draw in foreign cultures–it doesn’t, and it never will.

    The Golden State Warriors have been an afterthought in this league for almost 40 years now. Imagine the Warriors on equal footing with the Lakers. That will take more money & glitz than Oakland could ever provide.

    Build the arena. Reality check, Lowell (a bit like a Curry heat check.)

    February 8th, 2014 9:02 am

  22. Stan

    dharte said nothing factual to back up his arguments. It was the Warriors who left the City- remember? And the Oakland fans have been fanatical. Almost every game is a sellout..winning-few of those- or losing years.
    Oakland provides more land than Lacob could ever get in SF.

    No need to make his own archipelago out of a refinery tanker.

    February 8th, 2014 12:34 pm

  23. dharte


    And they attracted no interest from the premier players for four decades; the Warriors have never been a threat for an NBA title from the moment Wilkes left…a long, long time ago. During that same period the Lakers dominated the league because LA was a destination.

    That’s a fact, Stan. You may wish that Oakland’s image was different, but of course such hopes mean nothing. It’s probably closer to say Oakland may soon lose all three of its franchises for the same reason.

    Golden State. Why, Stan, were they never called the Oakland Warriors? Frankly, they should have been.

    February 8th, 2014 5:59 pm

  24. Dennis


    dharte has more facts backing up his argument than Lowell has. Selling out the Oakland Arena has nothing to do with the Warriors wanting to move to San Francisco. In fact, it should probably tell you something.

    February 9th, 2014 10:30 am

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