NBA’s Warriors push back arena opening date

NBA basketball franchise the Golden State Warriors have maintained they are committed to building a new arena on the San Francisco waterfront after conceding that its planned opening date will be pushed back one year to 2018.

The Warriors currently play 16 miles away from the proposed new site at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, the club’s home for the past 42 years. The franchise played in San Francisco from 1962 to 1971 and in May 2012 revealed the plan to build a new sports and entertainment arena on the waterfront in time for the 2017-18 NBA season.

However, the Warriors have faced increasing costs and opposition towards the arena since it was first announced, while the project may also need voter approval because it exceeds current waterfront height restrictions. In November, the team released details of a third version of the design for the proposed arena.

Today, the site is a dilapidated 13-acre pier that’s falling into the Bay. The Warriors said they would restore the crumbling pier, build a new event pavilion, and create nearly eight acres of new public open space on the waterfront. With parks, plazas, and wide-open paths featuring views of the Bay, the ‘Design 3.0’ vision entails open space growing from half of the project area to 60 per cent. The new, slimmed-down design reduced the event centre area by over 30,000 square feet, expanded total open space by nearly one acre, lowered building heights, and removed 1.3 million cubic feet of volume.

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob confirmed recent reports that opening the arena by the original 2017 target date is no longer possible during an interview on the team's radio affiliate. Instead, Lacob told KNBR-680 that the Warriors are “planning on full steam ahead in 2018.” Team president Rick Welts told the San Jose Mercury News newspaper: “We're expecting to make 2018, and we're full-speed ahead. Any indication there is any pause, that we're taking our foot off the pedal, is completely inaccurate.”

Lacob and Peter Guber have been seeking to return the Warriors to San Francisco since buying the franchise for a league-record $450m (€333.3m) in 2010.