Warriors Win Key Judgment in Mission Bay Arena Battle

Last week, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong ruled against a group that had filed multiple lawsuits to quash the Golden State Warriors’ proposed 18,500-seat arena in the city's Mission Bay neighborhood.  

In May 2015, Governor Jerry Brown fast-tracked the environmental approval process for the arena under a 2011 state law designed specifically to simplify significant construction projects.

This recent ruling marks the latest milestone in favor of the arena in bitter battle between the Warriors and the Mission Bay Alliance along with Save Muni that has been going on for well over a year. Funded by a group of donors to UCSF, the Alliance argued that the facility's various events would flood area streets with traffic and as a result, impede access to the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which is directly across the street from where the arena is to be constructed. It also states that having a basketball arena in Mission Bay is at "odds with the cluster of life science research and health care centers that has taken root in the neighborhood."

Rendering of proposed Chase Center arena.

Rendering of proposed Chase Center arena.

But in a win for the Warriors, Judge Garrett Wong ruled that the city’s environmental review of the proposed arena was adequate. He formally rejected arguments the review had failed to consider environmental impacts, including alternate locations for the facility. The judge claimed that the modifications laid out to mitigate arena-related traffic were “reasonable” and allow transit agencies “to respond to actual travel patterns and to provide additional services efficiently based on demand.

The ruling was in favor of the city’s Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, which oversees the development of Mission Bay as well as the Warriors, the sponsors of the overall project.

The Warriors team President Rick Welts said the ruling “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. We look forward to breaking ground soon.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said the ruling is “an important milestone in the process of bringing the Golden State Warriors back to San Francisco and to building a state-of-the-art entertainment venue the entire San Francisco Bay Area can be proud of.” After the team reached a naming-rights deal with JPMorgan Chase, the arena will be christened the Chase Center.

While a plaintiff normally would have 60 days to file an appeal, the fast-tracking put in place by Governor Jerry Brown means the Mission Bay Alliance had just five days to decide whether to challenge the ruling. 

The lawsuit was one of two filed by the Mission Bay Alliance. The otherseeks to invalidate an agreement between UCSF and the Warriors, which entails a $10 million Mission Bay Transportation Improvement Fund devoted to controlling traffic flow in the neighborhood, especially during evening arena events.

The plan calls for positioning a large number of traffic control officers along with dedicated lanes for vehicles enroute to the UCSF Medical Center. And, should traffic around the hospital become an ongoing issue, the Warriors have agreed to hold a maximum of 12 events a year that would overlap Giants games at nearby AT&T Park.

The Mission Bay Alliance maintains that the UCSF chancellor exceeded his authority in coming to such an agreement without advisor approval of University of California. That Alameda County lawsuit is still awaiting a ruling.

Every facet of the Chase Center arena has “has been thoroughly scrutinized under the law, and it has won overwhelming support every step of the way, from all parts of San Francisco — including its neighbors,” say City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “I hope that the decision becomes final soon, so that the much-awaited construction of the project can begin.

The Warriors initially proposed moving to San Francisco in 2012. They received opposition on their then proposed location at Piers 30-32 and moved their sights to Mission Bay. The lawsuits pending on the current location has forced the opening of the Chase Center to 2019, a year later than originally anticipated.


Article excerpt from SF Gate.