By Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A Superior Court judge Monday upheld the environmental impact report for the Golden State Warriors new San Francisco arena, clearing a major obstacle standing in the way of building the facility.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a supporter of the project, lauded San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong’s ruling upending challenges to the city’s approval of the project.

“Today’s Superior Court decision today is an important milestone in the process of bringing the Golden State Warriors back to San Francisco and to building a state-of-the-art entertainment venue the entire San Francisco Bay Area can be proud of,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.

“The Warriors are inspiring a new generation of fans throughout the Bay Area, and I can’t wait to welcome them back home to San Francisco,” he added.

Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts said the decision brings construction of the stadium “a huge step closer.”

“We’re very pleased by the court’s ruling,” he said in a prepared statement. “We engaged in an extensive public planning process and we were approved by every board, agency and regulatory body we went before. Now our project has been upheld by the court. This decision brings us a huge step closer to building a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue.”

Warriors co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber began eyeing possible locations in San Francisco a few after they purchased the team.

A site along the waterfront near Pier 30-32 was abandoned in favor of a location in Mission Bay that had been purchased by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

The team purchased the property across the street from the three new UC San Francisco hospitals and moved ahead with their construction plans.

San Francisco officials approved the plan, UCSF officials gave it their blessing and the NBA backed the arena plan.

However, a group called the Mission Bay Alliance, led by some former UCSF officials, challenged the city’s approval process in court. The lawsuit alleged among other things that the arena traffic would impact access to the emergency services at the hospitals.

Monday’s court setback leaves arena opponents with just one option — appeal the ruling to the state appellate court.

In addition to the arena, the development will also include restaurants, cafes, offices and public plazas as well as a five-and-a half-acre public waterfront park.

The team has already sold the naming rights to the 18,000-seat arena to JP Morgan Chase. The Chase Center is expected to be opened for the 2019-2020 NBA season.

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