Waterfront basketball and concert arena moving quickly despite neighborhood concerns
"I remind people, this is a private investment of hundreds of millions of dollars," Lee said of a project pegged to cost around $1 billion. "It means a lot of jobs, and that is so important to all of us."
The project is expected to directly create 4,300 jobs: 2,600 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent jobs, including those at the 17,000-seat sports and entertainment arena and the 250-room hotel and 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurants that would be built as part of the project.
"We've been spending a lot of these last many months describing what it is we want to build," Warriors President Rick Welts said at the press conference before casting the project in grander terms. "That's not really what we're building. What we're really building are memories."
But city residents and workers are looking for more tangible benefits than just the highs of watching big games or concerts. The building trades were already expected to strongly support the project, which only got stronger with last week's local-hire deal. Labor's support for the project was broadened on Nov. 19 with the announcement that the Warriors agreed to card-check neutrality for the hotel, making it easier for its employees to join UNITE-HERE Local 2.
"Thank you for being a partner and we're looking forward to working with you in the future," Local 2 head Mike Casey, who notably also serves as president of the San Francisco Labor Council, said to Welts at the event before the two signed a formal agreement.
In addition to allowing the hotel workers to easily organize, the Warriors agreed to card-check neutrality for vendors at the arena with at least 15 employees and those outside the arena with more than 45 employees, as well as giving those who now work Warriors' games at Oracle Arena first dibs on jobs at the new arena.
"I think that speaks a lot about what the project is. It's not just a San Francisco project, but a Bay Area project," Casey said. He also said, "I want to thank the mayor for bringing people together and laying all this out."
While Lee and the Warriors do seem to have this deal pretty well wired, this is still a San Francisco project, a complex one on the politically and environmentally sensitive waterfront that city taxpayers are helping to pay for and one for which the residents there will bear the brunt of its impacts.
PAYING FOR IT
Lee, Office of Economic and Workforce Development head Jennifer Matz, and other key project supporters have repeatedly claimed this project is funded completely with private money, noting how rare that is for urban sports stadiums these days.
But in reality, city taxpayers are spending up to $120 million for the Warriors to rebuild the unstable piers on which the arena will be built, plus an interest rate of 13 percent, an arrangement that has drawn criticism from a key source.
Rudy Nothenberg, who served as city administrator and other level fiscal advisory roles to six SF mayors and currently serves as president of the city's Bond Oversight Committee, wrote a Nov. 12 letter to the Board of Supervisors urging it to reject the deal.
"Quite simply, I would have been ashamed of such a recommendation," Nothenberg wrote of the high interest rate. "In today's markets it is incomprehensible to have such a stunning recommendation brought to your honorable Board in such haste."
Johnston and Matz each disputed Nothenberg's characterization, citing a report by the project consultants, the Berkeley-based Economic and Planning Systems Inc. (EPS), that 13 percent is a "reasonable and appropriate market based return."