SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors on Monday, exactly two weeks after the seismic acquisition of superstar forward Kevin Durant, scored a crucial court victory that positions them to begin development of their long-desired $1 billion, 18,000-seat arena/entertainment complex in San Francisco, maybe before the end of the year.
Superior Court Judge Garrett L. Wong ruled in favor of the Warriors and San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure were in compliance with California environmental law, clearing the way for the Warriors to proceed into an advanced stage of development.
Put another way, the Warriors have moved from 60 percent of the way to putting a shovel in the ground to about 90 percent. The privately financed arena, which has been twice delayed, is now scheduled to open in fall 2019.
The lawsuit was brought by the Mission Bay Alliance, a private group of University of California-San Francisco donors whose stated goal is to prevent the Warriors from building on the China Basin site, on the waterfront roughly four blocks south of AT&T Park – and on a corner opposite to the UCSF Medical Center.
The MBA, joined by the transit advocacy group SaveMuni, filed the suit alleging the process had been quickly rubber-stamped by city officials despite environmental concerns, notably inviting additional traffic into an area generally congested.
“We’re very pleased by the court’s ruling,” Rick Welts, Warriors chief operating officer, said in a statement issued by the team. “We engaged in an extensive public planning process and were approved by every board, agency and regulatory body we went before.
“Now our project has been upheld by the court. This decision brings us a huge step closer to building a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, which will add needed vitality to the Mission Bay neighborhood and serve the entire Bay Area extremely well.”
Though Welts said the Warriors “look forward to breaking ground soon,” there are additional hurdles, including two more lawsuits, though neither is anticipated to block development.
The MBA’s response to Judge Wong’s ruling was to consider an appeal, which would have to be filed within five days. There is, to be sure, no indication the MBA or SaveMuni will go away quietly.
“SaveMuni believes the arena environmental impact report is deeply flawed,” said Gerald Cauthen, transportation engineer and co-founder of SaveMuni. “The huge development, with its planned 225 events a year, would compound the city’s traffic congestion and Muni problems, and probably delay the all-important, voter-approved extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco for decades – all for a private, for-profit project.”
The MBA is pushing for the Warriors to move their complex to the site of an old Muni yard near the intersection highways 101 and 280. The Warriors have shown no inclination to consider such a move.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is already declaring victory for China Basin.
“The decision of the court validates the extraordinary work of our Planning Department, the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, the City Attorney’s Office, the University of California San Francisco and the broader San Francisco community over the last two years,” Lee said in a statement. “The City left no stone unturned in its construction of a comprehensive, detailed and thorough Subsequent Environmental Impact Report.
“The Warriors are inspiring a new generation of fans throughout the Bay Area, and I can’t wait to welcome them back home to San Francisco.”