Not since the early 1900s, when Santa Cruz boasted a minor league baseball team, has there been a professional sporting franchise in this county. But the Santa Cruz City Council has the opportunity to change that this spring if it approves the .
The D-League (NBDL) is the NBA's equivalent of the MLB minor league system.
The Warriors' proposal hinges on Santa Cruz approving a $2.5 million dollar, 3,200 seat tented facility at Front Street and Laurel Street Extension, which is currently a parking lot. See the Warriors' mock-up of the proposed arena above.
Jim Weyermann, the Warriors vice president of new franchise development, and president of the Dakota Wizards, told Patch all about the proposed plans for the team and why Santa Cruz is the perfect destination. See highlights of that conversation below.
Patch: What makes Santa Cruz desirable for the Warriors and the Wizards?
Jim Weyermann, President of the Dakota Wizards: First of all, it represents a significant destination site within California where residents and tourists are familiar with having to get to and from the city. By providing a fall set of activities, we're able to bridge the strength of the city from its summer months where it's overflowing with people, to the winter, where the downtown has a difficult challenge in drawing people because of the lack of activities.
The second reason is that the long-term plan would be that we collaborate with the community to build a new public assembly performing arts facility in Santa Cruz. The reason to do it in the short term is that there isn't a new or relatively significant-sized public assembly building that exists from Half Moon Bay down to Monterey. With 3,200 seats, which for concerts could be up to 4,000 or 5,000 seats, you've now opened up Santa Cruz and the county to those B and C touring shows, which are currently bypassing the city because there's no venue there.
I used to live in Capitola and Santa Cruz-Capitola-Aptos is an outstanding youth basketball community. If I remember anything from my stay in Capitola, it's going to the high school games, and watching them pack those facilities with basketball fans. At the end of the day, that's what you've got to have, a core to make this work.
Patch: Are you concerned about Highway 17 and the physical gap between Santa Cruz and the rest of the Bay Area?
Weyermann: It's my feeling that that geographic boundary that exists from the mountain and the fact that 17 is what it is, is the part that keeps residents at home. When you're at home in Capitola on a November or December night where it's dark early and the fog is in and it's cold, there are only so many times you can go eat at the , right? At the end of the day, this provides the community with a tremendous opportunity to take the family out and have a reason to be in downtown Santa Cruz on a December night.
Patch: If the team moves here, what will it be called?
Weyermann: There's not a consensus on what the name will be, but it definitely will not be the Wizards.
Patch: Some people are concerned that the city doesn't have the money to do this.
Weyermann: The important thing on the money is that it's a 50/50 shared risk with the Warriors. We know that the public assembly formula works. The ones that don't generate a profit have to do with how they are managed. I don't think there's any question that the city is going to be in the position to host certain events that it certainly can't attract now, that will generate a revenue stream that doesn't exist right now. It works. You just have to do it right.
Are you excited about the prospect of a professional basketball team in town? Happy that we could have a big concert venue? Tell us in the comments!