After Tuesday morning’s press conference at Piers 30-32 that included speeches but no questions, a few of the principal attendees went off to the side and answered questions. Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob didn’t provide any specifics on financing, but he maintains paying for this planned arena on The Embarcadero won’t be a problem. He also talked about parking, working with the San Francisco Giants, if the Warriors plan on raising funds for the arena by selling personal seat licenses and other topics.
On why they aren’t going to attempt to get a bond measure passed:
“We can make the numbers work. As entrepreneurs, as financiers, we think we’re pretty good at this. We have great people associated. We think it could work. We could make a return for our investors and do something great for this city. And rather than stress the taxpayer, that’s not fair. So we’re not going to do it.”
On whether they have the money to do this:
“No, it’s not speculative. I’ve said, we have assurances — me and Peter and our investor group — that we are committed to doing this and making it happen. Could something in the economy happen, you know, like 2008 and throw us all into a loop? I’m never going to sit here and be arrogant about it. Things happen. Things could happen to turn this around. We would not be sitting here today if we did not have this financed.”
On whether a new arena in San Francisco is what Warriors fans want:
If you look at our season ticket base, 50% from the West Bay, 50% from the East Bay. We have the numbers, that’s what it is. There are in fact more season ticket holders, by quite a margin, from the city of San Francisco than from the city of Oakland. Now, most people don’t understand that or realize that. We know the numbers. We also have done polling … we’ve polled in San Francisco, given all of the facts, what do you think about this site, do you want to see this here, it’s privately financed and so on — 80% said yes. 80%. I don’t know anything else you can get 80% approval for. It’s very hard. Here’s the more amazing statistic. We polled in the East Bay. 66%, with the same set of facts, 66% were positive and said we should do this.”
Kawakami: is this a “poker play” in order to show the Giants that the Warriors mean business?
“I know you wrote that. It’s interesting for speculation but it’s completely untrue. I do play poker, but not about things like this. We are out here and in front of everybody today, as Peter turned to me on the stage and said, ‘Man, we gotta do this.’ And that’s the truth. We’re here to do it. Could something happen to screw us up like you proposed? Things always can happen, I always want to be looking over my shoulder. But the truth is we’re committed to the Bay Area … This is where we are going to be. We’re going to do this.”
On whether the window has closed on building an arena next to AT&T Park:
“Nothing is ever completely closed. That would be unfair to say. I talked to Larry Baer this morning. One thing people need to understand. It’s never been discussed. It has actually never been discussed that we’d be on the Giants’ site. It has never been discussed. And I repeat that three times because Larry and I were laughing about that a little bit this morning. I don’t know why that is but people assume that the Giants invited us there on Lot A where they’re doing this development. That has never happened.
“There was a small discussion with (the Giants) along with a lot of other people. It was very preliminary, very small. And very short-lived. We like the Giants a lot. They’re going to be our neighbors. They’re great people, I respect them very much. We did discuss Pier 50, which is adjacent. We discussed it with the city. We did discuss it with the Giants but it’s not the Giants’ to give. It belongs to the city and the port. That’s who we were negotiating with about this and Pier 50. Lot A has never been discussed. Could it be done on Lot A? I guess, if we all wanted to do it there. They’d have to change their plans. I don’t want to go in there, we don’t want to go in there and bust up what the Giants and Cordish Corporation, which is their partner, are trying to do there. It’s really not on the agenda for them or for us. This has been a misrepresentation.”
There is more parking here than there is there. That’s a fact. We have the studies. It’s one thing for the media to make the statement but you need to have the facts. We have the facts, just ask us for the facts and we’ll give you the facts. Here’s the issue. The Giants have Lot A. It’s the only real parking they have, 2,000 spaces. They’ve built out all of that, they’re going to have a parking structure replace that. It works for them. But 2,000 spaces roughly for 40,000 people that go to the game. We’re going to have on a relative basis the same thing here. We’ll have, in fact, more than that. And, in fact, if you do the parking study, now I’m not saying 2,000 spaces I’m saying we’re going to have on a relative basis. We’ll have 700 spaces, we think, on this site, we’ll have some more neighboring.
“If you look at this community, look at the parking studies that have been done, we have … 16,000 spaces within a 20-minute walk. There are so many parking garages. Look right over there, that’s called the Financial District. They all park somewhere. There’s parking garages all through there and all through SOMA where it’s expanding tremendously every day. New companies, new parking. There’s a lot of parking. Now, there’s also BART, there’s Transbay Terminal, there’s the MUNI. This is actually a tremendously public accessed site, maybe one of the best in the country.
“Do you have all parking spaces sitting across the street like maybe some places where they’re out in the suburbs? No. It’s an urban setting. You have to park, and you have to get here not just with parking. Not everyone can drive their car. But we feel we have at least as good or better of a parking situation than the Giants have at AT&T and they do a great job and it works really well.”
The question I asked — whether or not the Warriors are planning to finance the arena partly via personal seat licenses (PSLs):
“We have made no decisions along those lines. We’re cognizant of the fact that the 49ers are doing it, in a big way, by the way. We’re cognizant of the fact that the Giants did it to a limited degree, relatively, 15 years ago. So could it be done in the Bay Area? Maybe. We’re really not planning on that. We’ll evaluate that as time goes by and see whether that’s the appropriate thing to do. But right now we’re prepared to build this arena and this entire entertainment venue with our pockets.”
“No, it’s going to be the Golden State Warriors. That’s our name and until further notice — and I say until further notice because I’m leaving myself an out because at the end of the day, this comes down to what the fans want. Not me, it’s not what I want to name it, it’s not what Peter wants to name it. If the fans of the Golden State Warriors, overall, vote someday that they wanted to be the San Francisco Warriors, then we have to consider that. But bottom line is that it’s the Golden State Warriors and it’s going to remain the Golden State Warriors for the foreseeable future and maybe forever.”