Proposed Warriors' SF Arena Presents Various Obstacles

This new Mission Bay arena next to UCSF medical center would potentially open for the Warriors' 2018-19 season. (Photo via MANICA Architecture)

By Julian O’Donnell (Sec925 High School Correspondent)

When I first heard about the Golden State Warriors’ plan to build a new state-of-the-art arena in downtown San Francisco, I was ecstatic. They were finally going to be moving back under the bright lights of San Francisco, inside a brand new building that could help attract the best free agents in the NBA.

This arena, which will seat 18,000 fans, will be built a few blocks south of AT&T Park in the Mission Bay district, a rapidly developing area of San Francisco. On paper, it looks like an illustrious plan and seems like the right move for an organization that deserves to put arguably the best team in the NBA into a potentially top-of-the-line arena.

Yet, as the plan gained more traction, critics began to condemn the proposed plan. Although I originally looked at these protests as attempts to prevent my favorite team from moving to San Francisco, I soon came to consider these questions as actual problems that would arise in building this new arena.

The most important issue that stands in the way of this project is the concern of traffic, and the added congestion it will bring to San Francisco. I drive into San Francisco often, and the traffic is suffocating, especially on the freeways you merge into one once you hit downtown. One of the many reasons for this sudden influx of people in the city is because of new businesses, mainly tech companies that are moving their offices into the downtown district of San Francisco.

On one hand, the rush of workers into the city is beneficial as it generates economic and structural development. Yet, when you are bringing a business, such as the Golden State Warriors, into San Francisco, you are adding more people to the second most densely populated city in America behind New York City. It has a capacity limit that it is drawing closer every year.

Another problematic reason for building this arena is the loss of loyal fans from the East Bay who have supported the team through thick and thin. The congestion that a new arena brings to a city repels fans from the East Bay who are trying to get into a city that is gridlocked. Two hours to get into San Francisco? Not many fans would be willing to do that.

Will the Warriors be able to duplicate the energy inside "Roaracle" if and when they move to SF? (photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant)

With a loss of fans who have become synonymous with the Warriors brand, the team might play differently with a new fan base. So why change an arrangement that has worked out so well in recent years? The answer lies in economic growth.

Despite the negatives of building this arena, it will promote even more growth for an economy that changes everyday with the influx of businesses. The monetary benefits will trickle down and benefit many, just as it did with the Giants and AT&T Park up the street. 

Before the Giants moved into their present ballpark, that area was lifeless. It was used as a dump, and served no purpose in the city. Building the ballpark in this “dead area” let businesses grow in the surrounding plots of land, which were deemed desolate as well.

Now looking at that area, you would never guess it was once a ignored corner of the city. With restaurants, housing, and places of business, the area surrounding AT&T Park is booming and that is what the owners of the Warriors want to happen, a stadium that will grow the area surrounding it.

So where does that leave us?

The Golden State Warriors have just bought the piece of land that will be used to build the arena. We can all assume construction will begin shortly. Now, a countdown to the end of Oracle Arena will have to begin.

I think it is worthy to note that the initial drawings of the new arena, although very modern and sleek, remind me very much of a toilet. Could this be a sign of things to come for this project? Maybe.

In spite of all my critiques of the new arena, I have to welcome the project with an open mind. The best team in the NBA will be moving into the one of the smallest cities in America. For the sake of everybody, I hope this turns out all right.

Julian O'Donnell is a staff writer for The Acalanes Blueprint in Lafayette, California. Find more of his work here.