The Golden State Warriors released some long-awaited sketches of their planned waterfront San Francisco arena this afternoon. Since the team picked Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta and arena giant AECOM to draw up the arena and site plans, my thought was that they’d come up with something distinctive that “merges” the sea with the land. I wasn’t disappointed on that count.
The plan claims to have 50% of the Piers 30/32 site used as open space, with numerous connected public spaces including an amphitheater, promenade, and multiple plazas. A long, broad, gradual staircase takes visitors from street level to what would presumably be the concourse level of the arena. From there it slope down to the water. Kayaks could dock on the south end. Not sure how popular that would be during January and February, but it could be very popular if the W’s made the finals in June.
Surprisingly, little was shown of the exterior of the arena, perhaps to indicate that the vision there isn’t yet final. From all appearances it’s glass curtainwall of some sort, though word is that the roof will tilt to allow for enhanced view of the Bay. Orientation of the arena is slightly north-northeast (from basket to basket), and it’s not symmetrical. The concourse photo below indicates a largely column-free design, though it’s not clear where services such as restrooms and concession stands would go.
The surprising news is the intended capacity of the arena: 17,500. That would be the smallest capacity of any arena outside New Orleans or Sacramento, and would lead to an intense scarcity situation for tickets. It could also make the arena slightly cheaper to build, since there’d be less concrete needed to fill it out. Other important numbers, with my comments in brackets:
- Venue Footprint: 170,000 square feet [3.9 acres]
- Venue Height: 135 feet. For reference, AT&T Park is 183 feet to the light standard, 132 feet to the top of the seating bowl [Important because the Giants were able to get an exemption from the State Lands Commission because of height of the structure. The W’s are apparently mimicking this plan.]
- Venue Seating Capacity: 17,500. For reference, the capacity of Oracle Arena is 19,596 [Prices will likely reach Staples Center/MSG levels to make it all work.]
- Venue Total Square Footage: (excluding practice facilities and meeting rooms): 740,000 square feet [In between Barclays Center’s 675,000 and Amway Center’s 875,000, likely because of the reduced capacity.]
- Practice Courts: 21,000 square feet [First time in the Warriors’ Bay Area history that they’ll have a co-located practice facility with the arena.]
- Community Event Room: 10,000 square feet [Necessary carrot for City Hall/Board of Supervisors to sign on]
- Parking Spaces: approximately 630. Piers 30-32 currently parks 1,500 cars [Probably a garage under open space area]
- Retail: 105,000 square feet
- Open Space: 333,000 square feet out of 548,500 square feet total. The Warriors are committed to no less than 50 percent of the site being dedicated to open space. [Open space is good to fulfill EIR requirements. Also serves double-duty as additional staging area for pre-event activities for games, concerts, etc.]
The key issue will be parking and transportation, which are already scarce in the area. 630 spaces will cover only the team, VIPs, and little else. Caltrain and BART are both a 3/4-mile walk from the site, roughly the edge of what most people are willing to walk, though having a picturesque area like the Embarcadero helps. Muni’s N and KT lines serve the Brannan station. Even with that, something will have to be done to better regulate parking management, even if means severely restricting parking in the immediate area. It could get especially dicey if there are conflicting events at AT&T Park.
There’s still much to figure out and negotiate before a Warriors’ SF arena is approved. At least they’re releasing information on an aggressive schedule, which shows that they’re eager to make this happen.