A proposed Golden State Warriors arena at San Francisco’s Mission Bay has run into some powerful opposition in the form of UCSF donors who want to keep the land open for future development.
Here’s the backstory. After the team’s first effort at a new arena near AT&T Park was rebuffed, owners turned to the Mission Bay area and came to an agreement to buy 12 acres of land from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, a site once envisioned as hosting the software firm’s new headquarters. The final price hasn’t been disclosed — $150 million with a $30 million option already paid is a pretty good guess, we hear — and as it ends up UCSF donors were also bidding for the land, but they came up short.
And while most in the Mission Bay area love the idea of a new 18,000-seat arena and the accompanying retail development, wealthy UCSF donors are not. Hence the Mission Bay Alliance, with a declared goal of preventing a new arena on the site. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The mission of this world-class medical center should not be trumped by an entertainment center or the avarice of a few rich people seeking to double the value of the Warriors as a sports franchise,” said former UCSF Senior Vice Chancellor Bruce Spaulding, who was brought on by the newly formed Mission Bay Alliance to put the brakes on planning for the arena….
Their first play will likely be to go to court to argue that the 18,000-seat arena — and its 200 planned events a year — will have a negative impact on the neighborhood.
In other words, opponents will seek to tie up the planned arena in legal knots for years. As political consultant Jack Davis, in semi-retirement but working for the arena foes, told us: “We are going to litigate, litigate and litigate until the cows come home. On a one to 12 level, I give it a 10 that this is not going to pass.”
Perhaps. Politically, however, UCSF backers may not have the muscle donors assume. For starters, the Warriors have a plan that calls for actual construction generating actual property taxes; UCSF has no immediate plans for expansion, so the 12 acres would remain an empty lot and taken off the tax rolls. Second, the city throws a lot of business UCSF’s way, and there already some hints that relationship could end if UCSF donors persist in opposing the project. Third, the Warriors are amazingly popular right now, and many in The City like the idea of luring the team from Oakland’s Oracle Arena. It could be a brawl, or some in the UCSF donor community may decide a scorched-earth campaign may not be good for UCSF in the future.