The Warriors held one of their arena outreach meetings via conference call tonight. I saw a tweet for the event as it was beginning, so I was able to dial in just in time. Unfortunately, I was walking around so I wasn’t able to take any notes. I was able to remember a few key questions and paraphrased answers, which you’ll see below.
I’ve never heard of one of these events ever being held via conference call. Usually sessions like this are held in person in a small community setting, which at least one caller pointed out. Since this is just one of many, many meetings to be held in the next 12-18 months, there’s nothing wrong with this particular venue. I’d like to see it expanded out to a Google Hangout, among other technological options.
One of the first questions concerned which sports besides the Warriors would take place in the new arena. To me that sounded like code for hockey, although hockey was explicitly mentioned. W’s President Rick Welts’ brought out talking points such as the arena being the first true (large) multipurpose arena in the City, ever. He also talked about hosting other kinds of events such as concerts and family shows (ice shows). He didn’t talk hockey, which was expected since the 17,500 basketball capacity makes hosting hockey less than likely. The only sports events I’d expect the arena to host are annual or occasional ones such as college hoops tournaments, and extreme sports. Unless the W’s are desperate for events, it would make the most sense to keep most of the non-W’s dates free to attract prime dates for concerts and traveling shows.
Welts was asked about the development timeline. He said that prep work on the site, including the rehabilitation of Piers 30-32, should start in the summer of 2014 and continue through 2015. At some point in 2015, actual construction on the arena would start, with the team shooting for completion prior to the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. That’s plenty of lead time, even with the lengthy approval and permitting process.
There’s still no real answer as to how to deal with increased traffic associated with the arena, other than to point out the availability of public transit within a 15-minute walk (Muni Metro, BART, Caltrain). I didn’t hear any overtly negative calls, although some callers were concerned about the usual jobs and environmental issues. One caller noted that the development of the Seawall 330 lot, where a hotel will probably go up, is nearly as critical from a public approval process as the arena. That might be stretching things a bit, but there’s truth to it.
One caller mentioned the role of the BCDC, the state body dedicated to enacting and imposing the Bay Plan. He claimed that anything approved by the BCDC is expected to have a “maritime” theme. By this, I think he meant that there needs to be an effort to preserve maritime uses. The Warriors’ preliminary site plan has boat slips and mooring spots for various types of small craft, in addition to pedestrian access on all three waterfront sides of the site. Whether that’s enough or up for modifications is a question to be answered in the near future.
No questions were raised about the terms of the land/pier rehab deal, some of which were revealed in a Chronicle report last Friday. Again, that’s a matter for discussion once all of the details (hopefully) are released via a MOU or some other term sheet.