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Santa Cruz Warriors Nearing Lease Extension

Santa Cruz Warriors

Later this week, the Santa Cruz Warriors could receive a lease extension that allows them to remain in their current home while continuing to pursue a new arena. 

At a meeting on Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council is expected to vote on a lease extension for the NBA Gatorade League franchise. If the extension is approved, the Warriors could remain at Kaiser Permanente Arena through at least 2021 while working with local officials to construct a new arena.

When it was originally built in 2012, Kaiser Permanente Arena was designed as a facility with a projected 15-year life span that could serve the Warriors on something of a temporary basis. As they look to move into a permanent venue, the Warriors are expressing optimism about their discussions for a new facility. More from the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Extra lease and loan time, extended out through 2021, plus an option for one additional year, will give the city Economic Development Department time to “fully gauge community support as well as more thoroughly evaluate the potential for a public private partnership with the Santa Cruz Warriors and/or the Santa Cruz Seaside Co.,” department director Bonnie Lipscomb wrote in a report to the council.

The Seaside Co. owns the land beneath the Front Street-arena, formerly employee overflow parking until the facility’s 2012 construction. The structure, with a tent-fabric roof, came with a projected 15-year structural life and an expectation of replacement if the team turned out to be a fit for the community. The Santa Cruz Warriors, in their sixth season locally, are classified as a Gatorade League or “G League” basketball team and are an affiliate of the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

“Every meeting I’ve had with the city and the Seaside Co. has been a positive one. It’s helping move the steps forward. This lease extension is obviously example No. 1 of that,” team President Chris Murphy said. “This has to be done — It’s a lot harder to talk about the long-term when you have a deadline in a couple of seasons.”

The Santa Cruz Warriors have repaid nearly $2.5 million — more than $2 million toward the principal — on the city’s nearly $4.1 million loan for the temporary facility. If the lease and loan agreement extensions are approved, the Warriors will continue to pay down the loan for the life of the agreement, rather than splitting the remainder with the city in 2019, as scheduled. The move is expected to reduce the city’s liability by at least $515,000, according to the council report.

A previous study identified two sites for a new arena–the current location of Kaiser Permanente Arena, as well as Depot Park–with the 3,500 to 4,000-seat venue costing in the range of $30 to $40 million.

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