Top Scientists Oppose Arena Site


September 22, 2015


The Honorable Edwin M. Lee

City Hall, Room 200

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102


Re: Golden State Warriors Arena and Events Center in Mission Bay


Dear Mayor Lee,

We write as faculty members at UCSF who are also members of the US National

Academy of Sciences. Many of us either are, or have previously been, leaders on this Campus. We have seen this University rise to true excellence over the course of the past 40 years, and we look forward to an even greater future for UCSF and the exciting private biotech and medical organizations that it has attracted to Mission Bay. But we are seriously concerned that this future is threatened by the plan to construct a very large sports, entertainment, and event arena in our midst.

As you know, the plan for Mission Bay approved by the Board of Supervisors (October 1998) states, as one of the major objectives of this visionary project:

Facilitating emerging commercial and industrial sectors including those expected to emerge or expand due to the proximity to the new UCSF site, such as research and development, bio-technical research, telecommunications, business service, multi-media services, and related light industrial…

And indeed, Mission Bay has rapidly become one of the most prominent academicindustry biotechnology/medical complexes in the world. But we cannot stop here: we face increasing competition from other rapidly growing complexes of this type, both in the US and abroad. It will be critical to keep moving aggressively forward, if we are to continue to attract the very best talent – both academic and private sector – to San Francisco.

It is absolutely clear to us that the planned new Golden State Warriors Arena and Events Center in Mission Bay would severely degrade the environment for the many thousands of researchers and private sector biomedical scientists who come to work at Mission Bay each day. It would also curtail the beehive-like, daily exchanges of personnel – from the South Bay and elsewhere – on which the success of the Mission Bay biomedical complex depends. Our major fear is that the Mission Bay site will lose its appeal – not only for the new biomedical enterprises that the city would like to attract here, but also for most of its current occupants. The result could critically harm not only UCSF, but also the enormously promising, larger set of biomedical enterprises that currently promises to make San Francisco the envy of the world.

Much attention has been properly focused on how traffic gridlock caused by the new stadium would affect access to the three new UCSF hospitals that are immediately adjacent to the site, one of which houses one of only two Children’s Emergency rooms in San Francisco. It is unavoidable that terrible, and possibly even lifethreatening, traffic congestion will be associated with the planned complex, given that it is intended to be the site of some 220 events per year, held both in the evening and during the day (New York Times, September 6, 2015; business section, pages 1, 4 and 5). Many of us have experienced the hours-long gridlock that paralyzes all Mission Bay streets before and after San Francisco Giants home games. The absolute paralysis that it creates is already a non-trivial problem, which the planned stadium promises to both greatly expand and intensify. 

The presence of the 41,000-seat AT&T Park less than a mile (a 15-minute walk) from

UCSF Mission Bay has not been sufficiently factored into the plans to build the Warriors’ huge new sports/entertainment complex. The ballpark already significantly impacts life and work at Mission Bay, with nearly 50 San Francisco Giants home weekday games per season. Due to these events, it can take cars and UCSF shuttle buses over an hour to exit from the UCSF parking lot onto the streets, and a 20minute trip may require two hours.  

The widespread traffic impact of AT&T Park games is noted on the website for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA): 

“Motorists are advised to avoid the increased congestion in downtown San Francisco related to these special events and advises commuters to use transit, taxis, bicycles or walk and to avoid using the Bay Bridge in the two hours before or after these games. ... As a reminder to fans, in order to reduce congestion on city streets after all events at AT&T Park, the SFMTA will close eastbound King Street between 3rd and 2nd streets from the seventh inning until after the post-game traffic has died down. Additionally, the northbound portion of the 4th Street (Peter R. Maloney) Bridge will be closed to all traffic except streetcars, buses, taxis and bicycles during the post-game period. (

Adding an 18,500-seat Warriors complex on top of what is already a transportation mess is asking for disaster. We are highly skeptical of any plan that proposes to segment traffic by restricting 4th street and other routes for "UCSF business only,” since those of us at Mission Bay have experienced the unruly behavior of frustrated drivers stuck for long times in traffic jams. In fact, there is no believable transportation solution for two very large complexes placed in such close proximity at Mission Bay.

Imagine dropping a 41,000-seat stadium anywhere within a 1-mile radius of San Francisco City Hall, and then tripling the capacity of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It would make no sense, for the same reason that it makes no sense to squeeze the planned Warriors facility into the Mission Bay neighborhood. The resulting perfect storm of traffic would make it miserable for both the existing neighborhood and for sports fans  – in addition to threatening the entire future of UCSF as the center of a world-class academic/ biotech/medical complex. 

In summary, we urge you and the city to reconsider the wisdom of proceeding with current construction plans.


Sincerely yours,


Bruce Alberts, Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education

Elizabeth Blackburn, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Nobel laureate

James Cleaver, Professor of Dermatology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

John A. Clements, Professor of Pediatrics and Julius H. Comroe Professor of Pulmonary Biology, Emeritus

Robert Fletterick, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology

Carol Gross, Professor of Microbiology

Christine Guthrie, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Lily Jan, Professor of Physiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics

Yuh-Nung Jan, Professor of Physiology

Alexander Johnson, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Biochemistry and Biophysics  

Cynthia Kenyon, Emeritus Professor, UCSF, and Vice President, Aging Research, Calico Life Sciences

Gail Martin, Professor Emerita, Department of Anatomy

Frank McCormick, Professor Emeritus, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, David A. Wood Distinguished Professorship of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research

Ira Mellman, Professor (Adjunct) of Biochemistry and Biophysics

William J. Rutter, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry, and Chairman, Synergenics LLC

John Sedat, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Michael Stryker, William Francis Ganong Professor of Physiology

Peter Walter, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Arthur Weiss, Professor of Medicine, and of Microbiology and Immunology Zena Werb, Professor of Anatomy





Cc: Tiffany Bohee


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