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Warriors pitch new arena, development for G-League team

Santa Cruz WarriorsYou don’t usually see this sort of thing proposed for G-League teams, but the Golden State Warriors are in the early stages of outlining a new downtown Santa Cruz development that would include a new arena for its Santa Cruz Warriors team.

The Santa Cruz Warriors currently play at Kaiser Permanente Arena, which originally opened in 2012 as a temporary 2,500-seat arena until a new permanent home opened. It’s a very limited venue, lacking a kitchen for concessionaires or workout facilities for players. So far there’s been little progress in building a new home, and with the team’s lease up in 2023, both sides feel a little urgency in a providing a new solution. With Santa Cruz economic-development officials now involved, the parameters of arena development are now different.

Which makes the tentative plan from the Warriors so interesting. There have been plenty of arena projects undertaken with the promise of economic development, but rarely at the G-League level. From Santa Cruz Local:

Warriors games have helped draw patrons to restaurants and other businesses downtown, city officials said. Chris Murphy, president of the Santa Cruz Warriors, said the Warriors are considering a multi-purpose arena that could also potentially host concerts, shows and athletics events for UC Santa Cruz and local high schools. 
The organization is exploring a potential mixed-use arena project that could include affordable housing, office space, restaurants and shops, Murphy said. The hope is to figure out “how that can all come together as part of a larger community, sports and entertainment district,” he said….
Details for a permanent arena plan are still taking shape. Where a new facility would go is not yet clear, but Warriors officials point to housing, including affordable units, as part of the vision. The new complex could replace the existing arena on the same site or it could be built elsewhere. 

The new arena could fuel an expansion of downtown Santa Cruz toward the beachside area, so there’s plenty at stake.

This is not a huge project, to be sure; we’re talking a new 3.500-seat arena with lots of upgrades. But it’s interesting that even such a modest venue is being pitched as an economic-development and housing project, not just a quality-of-life proposal designed to keep pro basketball in town.

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