Warriors Unveil Plans To Return To San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Pro basketball is coming back to San Francisco.

The Golden State Warriors, who have spent the past 41 years across the Bay in Oakland, plan to build a new arena by 2017 along the San Francisco waterfront at Piers 30-32, where the team held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce the move.

The Warriors have a lease at Oracle Arena in Oakland through the 2016-17 NBA season and plan to have the new arena in San Francisco built and ready for use by the following season.

PHOTOS: Warriors Announce Move To San Francisco

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, whose ownership group bought the team 18 months ago, said team officials looked at several different locations before settling on the one just south of the Bay Bridge and just north of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Lacob said.

He said moving the team was “not an easy decision” and said he is “very, very appreciative of the home we’ve had in Oakland.”

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The new arena will be privately financed instead of using taxpayer money, Lacob said, noting that the Giants’ ballpark was also privately financed and showed “it can work very, very well.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had been talking to Warriors officials for about five months prior to Tuesday’s announcement and said he was excited about the team returning to where it played from 1962 to 1971 before moving to Oakland.

“It’s time to welcome them home,” Lee said.

Lee said he has been “unabashed about pursuing this opportunity” and said he hoped Oakland city officials know the pursuit wasn’t “out of spite. We’re doing it for our own economic sake and for the development of San Francisco.”

Artist's conception of a Warriors arena on San Francisco Piers 30-32 with AT&T Park in the foreground. (Art Zendarski/Golden State Warriors)

Artist’s conception of a Warriors arena on San Francisco Piers 30-32 with AT&T Park in the foreground. (Art Zendarski/Golden State Warriors)

The new arena is expected to create thousands of jobs and will also host various entertainment events and large conventions that San Francisco does not have the space for, according to city officials.

The site is also expected to be transit-friendly, with a San Francisco Municipal Railway Muni Metro stop nearby and the Embarcadero BART station and new Transbay Transit Center within walking distance.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Warriors head coach Marc Jackson and the team’s starting power forward David Lee were among the other speakers at the news conference, as well as NBA legend Jerry West, who currently serves as an executive board member for the team.

West said the team’s new owners “know where they want to go and they’re putting their money behind their mouths.”

Plans for the stadium will have to include the cost to repair the crumbling infrastructure at Piers 30-32, estimated at up to $100 million, according to city officials.

Lacob said “we’re faced with a tight timeline” in completing the arena by 2017, including what he estimated will be about two years of getting the various local and state permits approved, followed by at least two years of construction.

He said there are currently no plans to change the team’s name back to the San Francisco Warriors, which it went by during its time in the city.

“It’s going to be the Golden State Warriors. That’s our name until further notice,” Lacob said.

Officials in Oakland released a statement saying they were disappointed with Tuesday’s announcement in San Francisco, but remained bullish on plans to build the Coliseum City sports and entertainment district at the current site of O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena.

Coliseum City is a long-term development project that was never dependent on any one tenant,” said Mayor Jean Quan in the statement.

“San Francisco has given the Warriors a waterfront offer they could not refuse,” Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell said.

“In the end, we will leave a space for the Warriors after they are exhausted from the CEQA litigation and cost increases required to be on the San Francisco waterfront,” Blackwell said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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