That boom you hear coming from the San Francisco Bay Area isn't sonic but a sports venue building boom: The San Francisco 49ers' new Santa Clara stadium is flying out of the ground ready for a 2014 kickoff; the San Jose Earthquakes recently broke ground for a new soccer stadium near Mineta San Jose International Airport; and the Golden State Warriors are fast breaking on moving from Oakland to a new arena on San Francisco's Embarcadero slated to tip off in 2017.
But the Warriors' timetable would break all Bay Area stadium/arena construction records.
It took the politically savvy Giants 13 years to realize the dream that became Pac Bell (now AT&T Park). The new football stadium being constructed in the heart of Silicon Valley was preceded by 12 years of fussing, fighting, financing and farewells to San Francisco, the team's home since 1946.
The area around Piers 30 and 32 on the Embarcadero has seen four unsuccessful attempts at development, including the most recent by the city and software billionaire Larry Ellison for construction as the hub of the 2013 America's Cup.
Warriors' arena critics are concerned that, under the agreement between the team and the city, the Warriors would pay all upfront costs with the city reimbursing the team for up to $120 million to rebuild the infrastructure of the 13-acre pier, which is falling apart. The estimated $1 billion project will be privately financed by Warriors ownership led
Anytime a construction project touches San Francisco Bay, a significant environmental impact review process ensues, especially for one of this magnitude.
Dealing with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines tends to slow down even the most optimistic, savvy, deep-pocketed developers.
The lineup of groups with oversight and input on the project will include (among many others):
On April 4, the San Francisco Giants announced a mixed-use residential and commercial development on 27 acres at Mission Rock adjacent to AT&T Park. The Giants and their development partner Cordish will break ground in 2015.
Initially, it looked like the Giants and the Warriors were going to partner on this land for the new arena. A footprint for the arena will remain in place pending what happens at Piers 30 and 32.
The Oakland A's continue to try an escape from Major League Baseball's territorial restriction and move to a planned ballpark right next to HP Pavilion, home to the San Jose Sharks.
There is also noise coming from the Oakland Raiders relating to building their own new stadium somewhere in the Bay Area. You can't tell the projects and their progress without a score card or an investment banker.
All of these new facilities will be built on the back of private investment. If you add up the sports venues under construction or on the drawing board for Bay Area franchises, the costs could pile up to around $3.5 billion.
The recoupment of those huge private investments would have to come from naming rights, premium seating and seat licenses.
Fans, the corporate community and elected officials throughout the area are participating in the most significant referendum on disposable income for sports in Bay Area history.
Andy Dolich is a sports business consultant who was an executive of the Oakland A's from 1980-94 under the Haas family ownership, has been COO of the San Francisco 49ers and president of the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.