basketball.jpg4:23 PM: Pro basketball is coming back to San Francisco.

The Golden State Warriors, who have spent the past 41 years across
the Bay in Oakland, plan to build a new arena by 2017 along the San Francisco waterfront at Piers 30-32, where the team held a news conference this morning to announce the move.

The Warriors have a lease at Oracle Arena in Oakland through the 2016-17 NBA season and plan to have the new arena in San Francisco built and ready for use by the following season.

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, whose ownership group bought the team 18 months ago, said team officials looked at several different locations before settling on the one just south of the Bay Bridge and just north of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Lacob said.

He said moving the team was “not an easy decision” and said he is “very, very appreciative of the home we’ve had in Oakland.”

The new arena will be privately financed instead of using taxpayer money, Lacob said, noting that the Giants’ ballpark was also privately financed and showed “it can work very, very well.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had been talking to Warriors officials for about five months prior to today’s announcement and said he was excited about the team returning to where it played from 1962 to 1971 before moving to Oakland.

“It’s time to welcome them home,” Lee said.

Lee said he has been “unabashed about pursuing this opportunity” and said he hoped Oakland city officials know the pursuit wasn’t “out of spite. We’re doing it for our own economic sake and for the development of San Francisco.”

The new arena is expected to create thousands of jobs and will also host various entertainment events and large conventions that San Francisco does not have the space for, according to city officials.

The site is also expected to be transit-friendly, with a San Francisco Municipal Railway Muni Metro stop nearby and the Embarcadero BART station and new Transbay Transit Center within walking distance.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Warriors head coach Marc Jackson and the team’s starting power forward David Lee were among the other speakers at the news conference, as well as NBA legend Jerry West, who currently serves as an executive board member for the team.

West said the team’s new owners “know where they want to go and they’re putting their money behind their mouths.”

Plans for the stadium will have to include the cost to repair the crumbling infrastructure at Piers 30-32, estimated at up to $100 million, according to city officials.

Lacob said “we’re faced with a tight timeline” in completing the arena by 2017, including what he estimated will be about two years of getting the various local and state permits approved, followed by at least two years of construction.

He said there are currently no plans to change the team’s name back to the San Francisco Warriors, which it went by during its time in the city.

“It’s going to be the Golden State Warriors. That’s our name until further notice,” Lacob said.

Oakland officials released a statement following today’s announcement saying they were still bullish on their city’s plans for the future and are leaving the door open if the Warriors decide to return.

“San Francisco has given the Warriors a waterfront offer they could not refuse,” Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell said.

“In the end, we will leave a space for the Warriors after they are exhausted from the CEQA litigation and cost increases required to be on the San Francisco waterfront,” Blackwell said.

10:46 AM: The Golden State Warriors are moving back to San Francisco, team officials confirmed at a news conference held on the city’s waterfront this morning.

The Warriors, who have spent the past 41 years across the Bay in Oakland, plan to build a new San Francisco arena by 2017 at Piers 30-32, the site of this morning’s news conference.

Team co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, NBA Commissioner David Stern and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee were among those on hand today at the site, located just south of the Bay Bridge.

“This has been a remarkable journey for us,” said Lacob, whose ownership group bought the team 18 months ago. “We hope to be here for a very long time.”

The Warriors have a lease at Oracle Arena in Oakland that runs through the 2016-17 NBA season. The arena is next door to the Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s baseball team and Oakland Raiders football team.

The new arena in San Francisco, which will be privately funded, would be open in time for the 2017-18 season.

Lee has openly worked to woo the Warriors back to San Francisco, where they played for nearly a decade until 1971, when they moved to Oakland.

“It’s time to welcome them home,” Lee said today.

He said the team’s move will create thousands of jobs and result in “enormous economic growth for the city.”

Officials in Oakland were not immediately available for comment on today’s announcement, but Oakland Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell released a statement on Monday when rumors were swirling that an announcement was imminent.

“We are still in direct dialogue with the Warriors about the opportunity to build a new arena. We have always been aware that they are exploring all their options, including a San Francisco site,” Blackwell said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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