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Blood on the Hardwood

NBA basketball’s return to the city is itself the subject of a bruising contest.


Along the southern half of Mission Bay’s main drag sits an unsightly vacant lot. But in the not-too-distant future, it could be hosting concerts, tractor pulls, and conventions all year long—in a sleek new Golden State Warriors arena. The project is fervently backed by Mayor Ed Lee, as was an earlier iteration slated for Piers 30–32. Having hired a small army of fixers to push through their politically blessed endeavor, the team thought it had an easy dunk. Until, suddenly, a Shaq-like behemoth emerged—a pugnacious outfit that has enlisted Al Gore’s lawyer and has more money than God. As battles in the paint go, this one looks to be a barn burner. Somebody oughta sell tickets.

The Mission Bay Alliance 

"There will be litigation until the cows come home." —Jack Davis

Samuel Barondes, director of UC San Francisco’s Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry; Jeanne Robertson, former chair of the UCSF Foundation; Bruce Spaulding, former senior UCSF vice chancellor and driving force behind the UCSF Mission Bay campus; Bill Rutter, former UCSF biochemistry and biophysics department chair and cofounder of Chiron; Jack Davis, bon vivant and consultant; Sam Singer, spokesman.

Scouting Report
Fielding a deep bench of self-professed billionaires, the Mission Bay Alliance can play defense (it has hired a cadre of land-use attorneys) and offense (it has acquired the services of onetime Bush v. Gore attorney David Boies and Molotov-tossing operatives Davis and Singer). Following its attorneys’ recent perusal of the project‘s environmental impact report, the alliance accused the arena of over 50 violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and claimed that it would create a traffic Armageddon that would—no joke—actually kill people by marooning them on congested streets en route to the ER

The San Francisco Establishment

"Without great sports franchises, we can't be a great city." —Marc Benioff in the New York Times

Ed Lee, mayor; Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, Warriors owners; Marc Benioff, Salesforce chief executive officer and owner of the land slated for purchase by the Warriors; Ron Conway, tech baron, mayoral financier, and dabbler in politics; Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association; Jesse Blout, former deputy chief of staff for Mayor Gavin Newsom and principal at Strada Investment Group; P.J. Johnston, former Mayor Willie Brown spokesman; Nate Ballard, former Mayor Gavin Newsom spokesman.

Scouting Report
Working hand in glove with city hall, the Warriors are claiming that the stadium will be a boon to San Francisco: They’ll bear all the costs, and the city will benefit by having a world-class arena. The question of who’s on the hook for transit, infrastructure, and other development-related costs notwithstanding, Lacob and Guber will be putting their money where their mouths are—and getting it back: Unlike at their municipally owned Oakland digs, they’ll take the cream from concessions sales and the hundreds of events per year that don’t feature NBA basketball.


Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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