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San Francisco Courts Golden State Warriors With Letter Floating New Waterfront Stadium

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Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis.
Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis.

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is putting on the full court press in his effort to convince the Golden State Warriors to relocate to the city.

In a letter sent this week to the management of the currently Oakland-based NBA franchise, Lee joined with all eleven city supervisors, the Ports Commission, all of the city's elected legislative officials and a group of labor and business leaders urging the Warriors to strongly consider relocating to the other side of the Bay.

The key to enticing the Warriors into San Francisco is the construction of a shiny new arena. The most likely location are Piers 30 and 32, which sit between the western span of the Bay Bridge and AT&T Park.

In the letter, local leaders boast of what San Francisco has to offer:

We believe the San Francisco waterfront, in particular, offers a spectacular opportunity for a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility that would be ideal for the team, the fans and the entire region. As baseball fans already know, the San Francisco waterfront provides an incredibly beautiful, vibrant and easily-accessible location for visitors from all over the area. We offer you the opportunity for a similarly successful partnership between the City of San Francisco and the Golden State Warriors today that will bring a new facility located in a transit-rich environment that emphasizes the beauty of San Francisco Bay. Warriors fans will be able to travel easily from north, east, and south to enjoy a game, entertainment, and world-class hotels and restaurants--dramatically enhancing the fan experience.

The city has already sunk $8 million into restoring the piers in preparation for the 2013 America's Cup; however, another $50 million in restoration work wlll be necessary before any stadium construction could conceivably begin.

Lee has been brazenly chasing the Warriors for months. During an April appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California, the mayor declared, "I'm not going to apologize for grabbing someone else's team."

Late last year, the devoutly pro-business mayor organized a meeting between Warriors management and San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer over a proposal to build a stadium on land owned by the 2010 World Series champions. While that deal never came to fruition and the Giants instead devised another use for the space, the Warriors never lost their interest in the city.

But despite Lee's efforts to lure the Warriors into town with a brand new stadium, he's made it abundantly clear that the government won't be picking up the tab for said stadium.

While most professional sports complexes around the country are built, at least partially, with government assistance, local public support for such a move has historically been mixed at best. A pair of votes to give the Giants public money for a bay-front stadium in the late 1980s fizzled, but San Francisco voters narrowly approved a $100 million bond to help finance a Candlestick Point stadium/shopping complex for the 49ers. (It later fell apart.)

The Warriors aren't the only professional sports franchise in Oakland with at least one eye on the door. Both the A's and Raiders have made noise about potential moves to greener pastures, and the leases all three teams have on their respective homes are coming up in the next few years.

While Oakland's civic leaders have pledged to do whatever they can to keep the team in the city, the San Francisco Chronicle notes that they've just received a significant setback:

By happy coincidence for San Francisco...[the letter] also went out on the heels of state Controller John Chiang's demand that Oakland hand over $3.5 million in redevelopment money that the city had hoped to spend on planning a new sports complex that would include an arena.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who seems to have escaped a threatened recall campaign relatively unscathed, shrugged off the bad news. "The Chronicle wants to make all of our problems seem much bigger than they are," she said in an interview with KGO radio. "We're talking about a about a $3 million EIR [Environmental Impact Report] on a $2 billion project."

"I plan to keep all three teams," she added.

Quan's plan, which was unveiled in March and could create up to 32,000 jobs, is nothing if not ambitious. Oakland North reports:

At the heart of the plan is the Coliseum’s location as a transportation center--with a BART station, rail line and freeway that bring people from all over the Bay Area to watch games, and hopefully shop in the future as well. “We own one of the best sites in the maybe the country, but particularly in the Bay Area,” Quan said.

The approved two-part plan to keep the teams includes building hotels, retail, office and residential space in the Coliseum complex, which the plan calls "Coliseum City," as well as building an Oakland Airport Business Park just across the freeway on the way to the airport. The business park will be developed to attract tech companies. Both projects were allocated a total of $3.5 million at last night’s city council meeting.

If the Warriors do move to San Francisco, it would be a homecoming of sorts. During much of the 1960s and early 1970s, the team was known as the San Francisco Warriors and played their home games at the Cow Palace in Daly City and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium.

Lee expressed the hope to bring the team into San Francisco by the opening of the 2017 season.

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