San Francisco is so tiny, dense, and developed that the only way to put a new stadium here is to build one on top of some piers over the bay.
Okay, so that's not a huge surprise. But building a giant arena over the bay was the dead-serious plan announced yesterday by city officials and the owners of the Golden Gate Warriors. They want to move the team from its home in the 510 -- Oracle Arena, which opened in 1966 and was renovated in 1996 -- to a new stadium at Piers 30-32 in San Francisco. The proposal involves shops, restaurants, a somewhat terrifying lack of parking, and a clear ambition on the part of the team's billionaire owners to reside in S.F., the money and style capital of the Bay Area, not ol' underdog Oakland.
Regardless of your thoughts on the Warriors plans to move, the new arena would mean one big thing for S.F. music fans: Going to see a Top 40 act in an arena would no longer necessarily require driving to Oakland or San Jose.
The potential for concerts, in fact, is a key benefit of the plan, according to Joe D'Alessandro, CEO of the S.F. Travel Association. In his SFGate blog, D'Alessandro writes:
We believe, in particular, that the San Francisco waterfront offers a spectacular opportunity for a state-of-the-arts sports and entertainment facility. Just ask the fans what they think of AT&T Park.
Customers of the San Francisco Travel Association are also supportive of an arena. We recently sent a short survey to our top clients and among the group that responded 80 percent of them felt that an arena would add value to San Francisco as a convention/meeting destination. Forty-four percent indicated that they would use an arena for a variety of purposes ranging from general sessions to concerts and performances.
That part, at least, makes perfect sense: The Warriors only play 41 regular season home games per year, so a new arena would be available much of the rest of the time for concerts and other events. As of 2017, riding Bart or braving the drive south down 101 to see Radiohead or Jay-Z or Lady Gaga might be a thing of the past. (So might be the battles over concerts at Nob Hill Masonic Center)
And wouldn't it be great to never have to hear acts complain from onstage that they're playing in the middle of nowhere -- as Thom Yorke did at his band's most recent Bay Area show? Yes, but it'll only happen if the $500 million dream for an arena on the pier comes true.