SANTA CRUZ -- At first it was the metal structure. Then it was the fabric roof.

And now, crews constructing the Santa Cruz Warriors' 30,000-square-foot arena are preparing to put up 200 insulated wall panels, the final exterior component.

Rain slowed work at the site Friday, but "it won't affect the long-term schedule," said team spokesman Matt De Nesnera.

Once the walls are in place, crews will begin assembling the interior, including the hardwood floor, bleachers, video system and scoreboard. The NBA Development League team is scheduled to play its first home game Dec. 23.

Yet, the agreements underpinning the $5.4 million project remain unsigned, with an initial deadline having passed Thursday. For several weeks, officials with the city and Santa Cruz Seaside Co., the company that owns the 1.5 acre site at 140 Front St., have said lawyers are still examining a land lease agreement between the two.

Assistant City Manager Tina Shull said Seaside Co. officials have been concerned about replacement parking for employees of the company's famed Beach Boardwalk, some of whom used the Front Street lot. The city plans to provide parking in a downtown lot, but Shull said specifics slowed negotiations with Seaside Co.

"We have all been moving forward with a lot of good faith that we'll get there," Shull said.


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The issue is worked out now and the agreement just needs to be signed, which hopefully will happen Monday or Tuesday, Shull said. The delay is keeping the city from signing the main seven-year operational agreement with the Warriors -- which contains a standard "cure period" clause that allows the city three more weeks to seal the lease.

Meanwhile, the team's NBA affiliate, the Golden State Warriors, has been footing the bill for construction because the city won't release loan funds for the project until both agreements are signed. The Warriors first announced their intent to relocate to Santa Cruz in April.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a visitor parking plan for the arena, which includes adding new meters in the South of Laurel Area and increasing rates after two hours on some existing meters. There also will be pre-paid parking downtown and near the area for season ticketholders.

Also, city leaders will continue working with Beach Hill residents in coming weeks to resolve traffic congestion in the area.

Don Webber, president of the Beach Hill Neighborhood Association, said his group is not inclined to sue over the arena, as had been feared before the council approved the project in September.

Webber said the group is pleased there will be no arena events on weekend days in the summer, when tourist traffic comes to a standstill near the beach, and that leaders are willing to talk about fixing other longstanding access problems for residents. The group also supported the city's ban on noisemaking devices at Warriors events.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports