ONN – Marc and Lynne Benioff, Mission Bay Development Group, The Warriors Community Foundation, have two things in common: first, they, together, donated at least $4.1 million to the Oakland Promise, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s non-profit corporate effort to create a fund to send kids from Oakland’s low-income families to college, and second, they were all involved in the development of Chase Center Arena.
In other words, Marc and Lynne Benioff, Mission Bay Development Group, and The Warriors Community Foundation, all were involved in moving the Golden State Warriors out of Oakland and to San Francisco.
And, by being large players in the financing of the Oakland Promise, they also made it less likely that Mayor Schaaf would oppose the Warriors attempts to move, or even back any effort to gain money from the team relocation via a lawsuit. (Indeed, the Golden State Warriors still owe the City of Oakland $40 million that the NBA organization was ordered to pay in 2018, and that even though the team’s $700 million in estimated annual revenue is behind only the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.)
Marc Benioff Helped Warriors Leave Oakland By Selling His Now Chase Center Land To Joe Lacob
In 2013, Marc Benioff, the philanthropic Founder and CEO of Salesforce, contacted Joe Lacob about land he owned next to UCSF Benioff Medical Center. At the time, Lacob and his colleagues were focused on building a new arena on the San Francisco Waterfront near what is now Oracle Park, and where the San Francisco Giants play, but were running into giant neighborhood opposition.
Benioff, who owned several blocks in what’s called the Mission Bay Development, basically gave Lacob a lifeline. According to Eric Young of the San Francisco Business Times, the land deal was made during the 2013 NBA Western Conference Finals. That gave the Warriors a place to with their arena plans, just as it looked like they would have to give up on San Francisco and stay in Oakland.
And it gave Marc what he wanted for San Francisco, the Warriors, and at the expense of Oakland. In 2015, Benioff told the New York Times “If I want to see U2, I have to go to San Jose. Without great sports franchises, we can’t be a great city. This is about the future of San Francisco,” he said. “What is San Francisco going to be?”
Note that Marc didn’t say he could see U2 in Oakland, although the band has played at Oracle Arena.
And that land deal put Benioff in partnership with the Mission Bay Development Group, where it’s founder and president, Seth Hamalian, was Managing Director with Farallon Capital Management, LLC.
In turn, Farallon Capital Management, LLC is an American hedge fund investment firm that manages money on behalf of institutions and individuals. Farallon, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded by Tom Steyer in 1986. (Who just so happens to be the same Tom Steyer who is running for President of The United States, and is another major donor to the Oakland Promise. In fact, his name, along with that of Beneficial State Bank, is listed as Oakland Promise donors. The Dailly Caller claimed that Steyer traded a $500,000 donation for the Mayor of Oakland having her City of Oakland join a lawsuit against large oil companies that they believed were responsible for climate change; the court disagreed.)
Meanwhile, Marc Benioff didn’t care one whip about Oakland and professional sports. He said that he’d rather focus on Oakland kids in our celebrated Twitter feud of 2016:
— Zennie Abraham, Founder & CEO of Zennie62Media (@zennie62) October 26, 2016
But in retrospect, it’s clear that the Salesforce CEO really wanted to just say that he thinks San Francisco is a city and that Oakland is just a town that had no business having the Warriors. This continues a long battle that Oaklanders like myself have waged against San Francisco just to build our own place. Arguably, Mayor Schaaf has allowed much of what formed Oakland’s civic self-esteem to be taken away. All thanks to her new friendships with San Francisco billionaires.
One can make the argument that Mayor Schaaf took office in late 2014, and was therefore too late to stop their efforts. But that view discounts the fact that Mayor Schaaf was Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf, before she became Oakland’s 50th Mayor.
Moreover, it was known that the Warriors under Lacob coveted a San Francisco home, yet Oakland’s leadership did nothing to stop them. Jean Quan, who was Oakland’s Mayor from 2010 to 2014, once told me that she was surprised over how important the Warriors were to many in Oakland.
And while she told Stephen Curry that the Warriors would play in San Francisco, but retain their headquarters in Oakland, the fact is that Chase Center was designed to be the Warriors new headquarters.
The Warriors are completely gone from Oakland.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media