OAKLAND –- Even as the Warriors express firm commitment to building a new arena in San Francisco, they have run into yet another barrier to their hopes of construction.
After saying for the better part of a year that they plan to open the new facility in Fall 2018, Warriors COO Rick Welts said Friday that Fall 2019 is the new target date.
The one-year delay is the result of pending litigation that opponents, primarily the Mission Bay Alliance, have vowed to file.
“Today we’re officially announcing that the arena will open in 2019 rather than 2018 in light of the litigation that the Mission Bay Alliance has recently filed,” Welts said to TK Show podcast host Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area New Group.
Formed with the goal of stopping the project, citing impact on traffic and other environmental concerns in the proximity of UCSF Medical Center in Mission Bay, the MBA Friday quickly pounced upon the announcement of the delay.
“This is a victory for the Mission Bay Alliance and the people of San Francisco who steadfastly opposed this massive arena and entertainment complex next to a children’s hospital in Mission Bay,” the group said in a statement emailed to CSNBayArea.com late Friday afternoon by spokesman Sam Singer.
The MBA is opposed to the arena site near the medical facility a few blocks south of AT&T Park, has filed at least two lawsuits in recent weeks.
The Warriors fully expected the litigation, which came after the NBA team fairly sailed through the official approval process, including that of the UCSF chancellor.
“It’s really unprecedented in San Francisco to get the broad range of support that we have,” Welts said on the TK Show.
“So this isn’t reflective of what the city wants,” he added, referring to the MBA. “It’s reflective of what the individuals behind the Mission Bay Alliance want. And we’re pretty confident that in the courts that will be recognized and we’ll be able to move forward on the project.”
The MBA has offered an alternative site, near the intersection highways 101 and 280, but the Warriors have remained committed to the Mission Bay site – their second option after abandoning a waterfront proposal they had hoped would be completed in 2017.
“We hope the City will use this one- year delay to select a better site that will avoid further gridlock in San Francisco and protect the Mission Bay medical and biotechnology community,” the MBA said in its statement. “The Mission Bay Alliance thanks the community for its support over the last nine months and will continue to fight this project until it is removed permanently from Mission Bay.”
“This is part of the process; anybody has the right to sue,” Welts said. “We accept that. We’re going to win. But we do have every confidence that 2019 is going to happen. The project is in great shape right now, on all fronts, and we have a lawsuit we have to win.”