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Council Moves Forward with Warriors' Pitch

"You don't get opportunity without taking some risk," said Councilwoman Lynn Robinson, who made the motion to continue to study the plan and return in May with more details. It passed unanimously.

Wearing freshly-made Santa Cruz Basketball shirts, two executives with the Golden State Warriors pitched a new basketball arena to the Santa Cruz City Council Tuesday afternoon.

The city agreed to move forward with the proposal, based on further study. The team needs a building in place by December of this year at the latest.

"I can point to 10-15 places across the country where it works," said , who speculated that revenues from a temporary arena – which would bring 3,200 fans for basketball and 5,000 for concerts – could help pay for city services, such as the swim lessons at Harvey West Park that were suspended in 2008 because of a lack of funds.

Weyermann, a former Capitola resident, said he thought Santa Cruz was a perfect spot for the team.

"This community loves basketball," he said.

The team wants to build a giant steel-framed tent, such as the one that houses Watsonville's Soccer Central, Weyermann said. It would be 34,000 square feet and could hold 60 tons of snow, he said, "not that we will need to worry about that."

The team would play 25 home games and the city could book events there the rest of the time.

The Wizards, the D-League team owned by the Warriors, has played for 17-years in Bismarck, North Dakota. The team wants more local control of its minor league program. Among the players who have been attached to the Warriors is the now-famous Jeremy Lin, who was with their Reno subsidiary, the Bighorns.

The team was first approached by UCSC to develop an arena and performing arts center, Weyermann said.

Residents who spoke at the council meeting were largely in favor of the proposal for what it could mean to local kids and schools who would be exposed to sports during the basketball season, which would run from October to April. It could also be used for youth leagues, antique shows and entertainment.

A few asked for caution in spending government money on a private business. The city would lend money to itself to pay half of the projected $2.5 million proposal.

If the team failed, the city would be responsible for the money, said City Manager Martin Bernal, who presented the positives and negatives of the proposal.

Bernal said that based on the Warriors' recent financial success, he expected the D-League, or development league team, to be financially viable. The money would be loaned from the same development fund that was used to do Mission Street repairs and to fund Measure H.

"We believe the team will be successful here and there would be no motivation to move it," added Weyermann. "I think it will be part of the fabric of the community."

Mayor Don Lane asked the team's representative why, if the plan was so potentially profitable, the team wants money from the city.

"Money is a way to cement the partnership," said Weyermann, who added that he didn't think there was any risk to the city's general fund. "If you have no skin in the game, you have no long-term commitment."

One of the things the team offered was half of the naming rights of the temporary building, which he said was worth $150,000 in total. City economic development director Bonnie Lipscomb projected that the team could bring in $20,000 a year in hotel taxes, just for sheltering opposing teams and could bring in $50,000 in admissions taxes, as well as revenue from parking and food and drink concessions.

The council will review the plan again at its May 8 meeting.

Steve Premo April 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM
"Mayor Don Lane asked the team's representative why, if the plan was so potentially profitable, the team wants money from the city. 'Money is a way to cement the partnership,' said Weyermann." Sounds like a snow job to me. "Oh, it's because it's such a great opportunity, we want you taxpayers to be able to make money too, because we are so civic minded." Give me a break! Don's right. If it were going to be profitable, they wouldn't need public funds. End corporate welfare! Stop taking money from the 99% to give to the 1%!
Steve Premo April 11, 2012 at 08:59 PM
"Mayor Don Lane asked the team's representative why, if the plan was so potentially profitable, the team wants money from the city. 'Money is a way to cement the partnership,' said Weyermann." Sounds like a snow job to me. "Oh, it's because it's such a great opportunity, we want you taxpayers to be able to make money too, because we are so civic minded." Give me a break! Don's right. If it were going to be profitable, they wouldn't need public funds. End corporate welfare! Stop taking money from the 99% to give to the 1%!
Brian Friesen April 11, 2012 at 09:50 PM
If you want a sports team, why not something more truly international like a soccer team, that could compete in the World Cup ?
David Knight April 17, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Agree with Steve Premo - $70K in taxes to pay off $1.25M in debt = 17.86 years - not a wise use of public funds. It's a D league from Bismark North Dakota for goodness sake. Are we really trying to model our city after Bismark? Santa Cruz is not short on entertainment. The bay area is not short on professional sports teams. Spend money on our permanent assets (roads, schools, parks, security).
Lisa April 19, 2012 at 06:27 AM
We can't fund our schools, but we can fund a basketball team? Give me a break!!

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