At the end of August, I had the honor of being invited as a guest to the Chase Center’s open house for employees of the Warriors Franchise. For the Chase Center’s first guests it was only right that they invited the employees that make the experience possible. It felt like I was in a different world as I stepped into the 18,000 seat stadium developed on the waterfront in the Mission Bay area. We got to explore the stadium the entire night including the chance to see sneak peaks of the locker rooms and dressing rooms. Festivities of the night included shooting hoops on the court and enjoying all the food and drinks the stadium had to offer. With all of the Chase Center’s collaboration of public and private partnerships I couldn’t help but think of the opportunities Santa Cruz has to expand the Santa Cruz Warriors’ own permanent arena.
Obviously we will not be building stadiums as big as San Francisco’s, however it’s important to keep our Santa Cruz Warriors in mind when we’re discussing development. The City of Santa Cruz is currently in discussion about building a permanent arena to coincide with the upcoming developments on Pacific and Front St. A new arena is a chance to boost economic vitality within the city. In order to provide opportunities for affordable housing and entertainment in the future we must look into sustainable and efficient development. This means looking into mixed-use buildings and combining affordable housing with prosperous businesses. Affordable housing will allow more city residents the opportunity to live in Santa Cruz and spend less time on the roads. An extension of Downtown provides something that every city needs which is more opportunities for engaging with the community.
I recently spoke with the President of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Chris Murphy, about the opportunities for the Santa Cruz Warriors to engage in cementing a permanent home in the Downtown area. The Warriors franchise strongly believes in community and a permanent arena would be a chance to extend their relationships with the community around them. The Santa Cruz Warriors already collaborate with community organizations and local nonprofits such as the Boys and Girls Club. Youth in Santa Cruz see the Warriors as a familiar face from the players reading to them in school and during school assemblies. This arena could be a chance the community to attend more events and programs in the arena. Businesses around the arena already see an increase in sales during basketball season. Even during the off season a new arena can bring musical upscale acts to Santa Cruz while at the same time encouraging new residential housing, commercial office space, and retail.
One of the main concerns about a permanent Santa Cruz Warriors arena is the effect it will have on traffic in the area. Investment into our public transportation system will encourage more residents to get out of their cars. In planning for the Chase Center, developers kept San Francisco’s city transportation plan in mind and prioritized public transit.To relieve traffic congestion around the Mission Bay neighborhood every Chase Center ticket now doubles as an all day proof of payment for the Muni. This will help to reduce the number of Ubers and Lyft around the arena as well using convenience as a way to incentivize event goers to use public transportation. Santa Cruz can incorporate a similar model by taking small steps such as incentivizing bike parking.
Ultimately we need to be discussing how a permanent Santa Cruz Warriors arena can have a lasting positive impact on the Downtown area. The year 2021 is right around the corner and the City of Santa Cruz will then have to decide on the logistics of cementing a permanent arena. Until then we can anxiously await for basketball season to begin in hopes of one day watching a game from Santa Cruz’s own equivalent of the Chase Center.