That crumbling pier along The Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco slated to house a new arena for the Golden State Warriors by 2017 is currently only a pile of aged wood.
That won’t be changing in time for 2017, even as the team hopes 2018 remains a viable opening date.
Warriors president Rick Welts told the San Francisco Chronicle this week the team won’t be moving into the state-of-the-art 18,000-seat venue in 2017 after its Oracle Arena lease runs out in Oakland after 2016. But the team also hopes it is only a one-year delay, even as arena opponents hope for an indefinite delay.
With three design iterations from architectural firm Snohetta serving as an attempt to appease government officials that must sign off on the project -- and neighbors, mind you -- the political landscape for the reinvention of The Embarcadero in a Warrior style hasn’t gone smooth. The latest design released cut the arena roof height down to 125 feet tall, as per neighborhood concerns, reduced the size of the entire arena by over 30,000 square feet and increased the total open space to 7.6 acres, 60 percent of the site. But that wasn’t enough for folks that don’t want to see an arena there at all.
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A signature-backed initiative will likely go to voters this summer asking that any approval of exceeding the height limits along the waterfront, either for an arena or the planned development nearby, requires voter approval. That type of stipulation, added in with the fact that projected costs for the upgrade puts placing any groundbreaking dates on the calendar near impossible.
And while Golden State watches the political unrest mount, so does the cost projections for rebuilding the piers, which the city plans to gift the team because, well, no one else really wants the headache, now meandering past $180 million. And that’s just to get the site ready.
The team plans to privately finance the new arena, but with government check-offs needed, getting everything in line for a 2017 opening was proving far too difficult. We now wait and see if 2018 proves too tough to muster.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.