Golden State Warriors announce move back to San Francisco 

The Warriors will leave Oakland for San Francisco, returning to The City for the 2017-18 season to play in a privately financed, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex at Piers 30-32.

That’s the plan, anyway. It was announced Tuesday by Mayor Ed Lee and team owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber at a lavish ceremony attended by NBA Commissioner David Stern and other officials at what is now just a windswept parking lot atop a decaying wooden pier overlooking the Bay Bridge.

Plans are still in development, but team officials say a 17,000- to 19,000-seat arena will cost them up to
$500 million. Another $75 to $100 million will go toward pier repairs. The City would provide the land.

But first the team must navigate a rigorous approval process, dodge potential lawsuits, overhaul the existing pier and finally construct the facility — in only five years.

“We intend to build the most spectacular arena in the country, that all Bay Area residents, not just San Francisco … can be proud of,” Lacob said. The team’s current lease in Oakland expires in 2017 and Lacob acknowledged that it will be “a tight timeline,” but said, “It can be done, and it will be done.”

The team has a stalwart supporter in Lee. The team’s return after 41 years — especially with the 49ers departing and the America’s Cup abandoning its planned $92 million pier rehab — would be an important achievement, Lee said.

“When Ellison pulled out of 30-32, we said, ‘Wow, that was another stinger,’” Lee said. The City had already been in talks with the Warriors about other locations, but the mayor said that’s when his office suggested the current site.

The parties forged the deal over several months. Despite Lee’s insistence Monday that he was awaiting the team’s decision, he acknowledged Tuesday that it had already been made. But he offered a caveat.

“I’ve been around the corner for 22 years working in this city,” Lee said. “There’s no deal until it’s really announced. The deal here today, it’s not built. What we’re committed to is working together to make sure we get through all of the complicated waterfront, water vs. land, neighbor vs. project — all of the complications that are attendant to what we’ve experienced in San Francisco decade after decade.”

The arena could host concerts and conventions. It would be close to BART and Muni, and the Transbay Transit Center. Warriors officials said they’d also like to have ferry service from Oakland to the arena.

Traffic, noise and parking, already at a premium in the area, could be an issue for neighbors. Lee promised “an upfront engagement” with community members on the plan.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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Ari Burack

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