Though they’ve yet to begin construction, or even set a date to start digging, the Warriors believe they’re generating momentum toward achieving their goal of a new arena in San Francisco by 2018.
That is, they say, one of the benefits of winning a championship in June.
“If you look at the history of arenas and stadiums being built around the country, many of these happen at the same time teams are having great success,” Warriors COO Rick Welts said Thursday during an episode of CSN Bay Area’s “But Seriously.” “And some of the failures are when teams are actually headed in the other direction.
“You don’t have to look much further than the 49ers here in our own market to see an example of that.”
Indeed, it’s absolutely fair to say the 49ers’ desire for a new stadium – which opened in Santa Clara last summer – got a major boost from the success that followed the arrival of coach Jim Harbaugh in January 2011.
And, going further back, the San Francisco Giants have cited the 1993 acquisition of Barry Bonds – and the ensuing excitement – as a major factor aiding construction of their ballpark that opened in China Basin in 2000.
The Warriors, however, are the only Bay Area team in the last 30 years to win it all while expressing a firm commitment to leaving their current building. They are 11 weeks removed from their first NBA championship in 40 years.
As a result, many folks who once ignored the Warriors – back when they were dwelling in the NBA cellar – are rushing to offer a warm reception as the team seeks to open in 2018.
Another positive factor, Welts said, is the wholesome image projected by the team and its players, led by MVP Stephen Curry, who conceivably has become the most popular player in the NBA.
“It’s not only the success of the team, but what the team presents as community citizens,” Welts said. “Players that we have on this team are such incredibly likable people that, certainly, there’s a halo effect on the project and on the Warriors organization.”
The Warriors still hope to open the new building in 2018, despite resistance from the Mission Bay Alliance, a group committed to fighting the arena on the grounds that it would be disruptive and perhaps dangerous to place such a high-traffic facility adjacent to a medical facility.
The Warriors believe they have addressed those issues and still anticipate going forward with the project, with construction beginning next season.
“There’s no part of us that has any notion of changing course at this point,” Welts said, citing support among San Francisco residents is at about 60 percent.