The Warriors anticipate a delay in final site plans for their Pier 30-32 arena, because they are looking to incorporate a cruise ship terminal on the eastern waterfront edge of the site.
Quick refresher: the original site plan looked like this:
The arena was placed at the southeast corner of the site to create the lowest visual impact from the rest of the city (height of structure notwithstanding for the moment). The inclusion of a cruise ship terminal would push the arena further north or west, while creating additional impact with its own structure, which could be 30,000 square feet or more. When Larry Ellison won the rights to develop Piers 30/32 as part of the America’s Cup deal, a cruise ship terminal was part of the plans. When Ellison backed away from 30/32, those plans were abandoned. Now, there is another cruise ship terminal planned for Pier 27, which is also part of the remaining America’s Cup development plans. The city wants to have at least two berths for such large ships, and Pier 35 is the current, space-limited main terminal.
Such changes are enough to warrant major EIR revisions, which is why we’re hearing the warnings about delays. The W’s may be forced to give up some ancillary development to regain open space. That shouldn’t be a big deal, since they could easily incorporate more square footage in the arena itself or push some of the ancillary stuff across the street to Seawall Lot 330 (the triangle). Adding the cruise ship terminal appears to be a nod towards gaining the acceptance of the ILWU, whose offices are in downtown SF, even though the union is much busier across the bay in Oakland.
Resistance to the arena has been measurable. Yesterday, Chronicle columnist Ann Killion chimed in with her critique of the plan. Killion wants to preserve the waterfront that has been opened up since the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down following Loma Prieta. While that’s admirable, it’s important to keep the arena’s visual impact in perspective. The arena will be about 400 feet long, 1/8th the length of the Embarcadero between the Bay Bridge and AT&T Park. AT&T Park along King Street is roughly twice as long, and not set back far from the street. Snøhetta knows a thing or two about building along the water, so they deserve the benefit of the doubt regarding their ability to integrate the arena along the waterfront and minimize the arena’s visual impact.
Killion argues that Lot A across from the ballpark would be a better fit. There is more parking available there and the infrastructure to bring 3,000 or more cars to the area is already in place. That isn’t the case at Piers 30/32. On the other hand, the Pier site is much closer to BART, doesn’t require a transfer, and because I expect very little parking to be made available in the immediate area, cars will be dispersed throughout the Financial District and South Beach areas instead of concentrated around the arena (where there will be no huge garage). Plus the Giants control the land south of AT&T Park, which means the W’s would have to split the revenue pie with the Giants. I’d just as soon not see the Giants’ tentacles in everything, thanks. That brings to mind another problem: with the expectation of reduced parking because of the Giants development plans at Mission Rock, if there’s an arena there as well, how will there be enough parking in that immediate area for simultaneous events at the arena and ballpark? At least with Piers 30/32 it’s spread out over a much larger radius.
This isn’t the first time Killion has come out against a stadium or arena concept. Killion was against the 49ers’ move to Santa Clara, the A’s plans to move to San Jose, and now this. Killion evens holds onto that anti-Niners sentiment even as the war over the 49ers has long been over. There’s an ill-researched jibe about rising tides here and a defense of Oakland there, or the idea that the arena will be obsolete in 20 years (not likely considering that it’ll be privately constructed, owned, and maintained). Change is inevitable. No need to channel Lowell Cohn before your time.
The arena plan will probably undergo at least a few more changes before it’s offered up for approval by the City and BCDC. There is every reason to think that a suitable plan will merge that satisfies vast majority of San Franciscans and Bay Area residents. If not, it should get voted down. Otherwise, Doug Boxer isn’t doing his job, is he?