As Gavin Newsom begins his switch from a real job to a ceremonial one, he has a few matters left to which he has to attend. A key development issue, according to Matier and Ross, is San Francisco’s America’s Cup bid. As the winner of the last Cup, Larry Ellison gets to decide where the next one is held, and the only US bid comes from SF. A couple different proposals have come in, both of which would exchange the development rights for select piers for the cost to rebuild them, a cost that the City can’t take on at the moment. A similar kind of development project is already underway in the relocation of the Exploratorium, which will move east from the Palace of Fine Arts to Piers 15 and 17.
Initially, the project’s location was going to be Piers 48 and 50, which are adjacent to AT&T Park’s main parking lots. This shifted to Piers 30 and 32, just south of the Bay Bridge, where Red’s Java House is located. Ellison has nixed the 30-32 idea, perhaps because he doesn’t want to work right next to/underneath a bridge.
The Giants are objecting to 48-50 because construction work there could be disruptive to the Giants’ plans for those parking lots, to which they have development rights. It’s highly likely that some of that land may have to be used as a staging area for construction equipment and the like.
It gets more interesting when you consider that Oracle has been a charter sponsor of the Giants, with its name on the ballpark’s suite level since the beginning.
So who’s going to win out? Surely the Giants can delay their plans for a couple of years while the waterfront beautification project happens. After all, the two key uses that the Giants have identified, a 5,000-seat concert hall or a NBA arena, aren’t exactly going to materialize for quite some time. The region isn’t begging for a 5,000-seat venue. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (7,000) is old but serviceable, the Warfield and the Fillmore cover sub-3,000 crowds quite nicely. On the other side of the bay Another Planet has cornered the market on mid-sized venues, as it has the Greek Theatre in Berkeley (5-8,000) and Oakland’s Fox Theatre (2,800). In the South Bay, San Jose State’s Event Center holds exactly 5,000. As for an arena, well, that would be easier to deal with if Larry Ellison owned the Warriors, you think? Even then, the W’s lease runs at least through 2017, with the team owners being liable for the remaining debt service if they don’t sign extensions that would keep the team until 2027. If the Giants decide on a concert hall, their dreams of a SF arena will vanish. If they decide to wait for an NBA team, they’ll be waiting quite a long time.
This round should go to Larry Ellison. A project like this comes around very rarely. If the Cup is staged locally, Ellison will be a very busy guy, probably too busy to entertain Oakland partisans’ dreams for him to wrest the A’s from Wolff/Fisher and build a ballpark in Oakland. Seriously, can anyone out there point to a single quote that can back up Ellison’s interest in the A’s?