With the Santa Cruz Warriors still mulling their options for a new arena, the city is likely to pitch two sites to the team.
When the Warriors arrived in 2012, the city went to work and quickly constructed Kaiser Permanente Arena, a roughly $5.4 million structure that is temporary in nature. With an agreement between the city and the arena’s property owner expiring in 2019, both the Warriors and the city want to solve the question of where the team will wind up.
Following a report from Consultant Victus Advisors, the search for a new arena is now down to two sites. Those include an expansion on Front Street, where the team currently plays, or a completely new structure at Depot Park.
Both sites offer their fair share of challenges. Staying at the current location would require relocating the Laurel Street Extension and acquiring several other properties. Depot Park, meanwhile, is expected to be more expensive and the arena would have to be constructed on a turf soccer field, which the city says it will try to replace at another location.
Faced with a $30 to $40 million price tag, some city officials question if the investment will pay off, but there is still a desire to keep the Warriors in town. More from East Bay Times:
Annual revenue at either arena site, as proposed, would not likely recover the city’s initial investment, said [city economic development director Bonnie] Lipscomb.
“I think when you go to some of the intangible benefits and the direct spending in the larger community, the community as a whole benefits from the investment,” Lipscomb told the Santa Cruz City Council. “But we can’t really expect, on an annual cash flow, to be able to recoup any capital investment.”
Early in the city’s exploration of a new arena, a large-scale multiuse facility housing sporting and other cultural and performing arts events was on the table. As the city’s study has progressed, however, consultant recommendations have narrowed the project to a sports-only arena. A multiuse facility with sufficient size to draw enough ticket and rental sales and house both performing arts and sporting events would not be able to recoup enough revenue sustain itself in Santa Cruz County, based on demographic and socioeconomic analysis, Lipscomb said.
One uncertainty right now is what the Warriors would need to draw in terms of attendance in order to make the arena successful. The city is mulling whether to have a third-party run the arena, which would be done in part to attract events on a year-round basis. That might be a logical course if it is deemed that the Warriors alone cannot justify the arena’s expense.
More details should emerge when the final feasibility study is presented to the city council, something that is expected to happen by this fall.