Rick Welts Rumors
Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts still will have a reason to celebrate if his team doesn’t win the NBA championship: he’s been named as the celebrity grand marshal of San Francisco’s gay pride parade. The San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee announced Monday that it had selected the 58-year-old sports executive for the honor previously enjoyed by such notables as singer Cyndi Lauper, actor Cheyenne Jackson and transgender activist Chaz Bono.
The Warriors are hoping to break ground on their new arena project shortly after the start of 2016 and have the venue completed in July or August 2018, team president Rick Welts said Tuesday. Welts said there was not a way for the Warriors to have the 18,000-seat arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood about a mile from AT&T Park ready by 2017, so they would stick with their original timeline of opening for the 2018-19 season. The Warriors released renderings of the interior of the arena for the first time as Welts spoke at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Forum.
Rick Welts: The thing that I get credited with, maybe that I’ll always live with, is the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend. It wasn’t really as visionary a thing on my resume as people might want to credit me for. I was in the unenviable position of trying to sell the NBA to major corporate sponsors at a time when the NBA was not viewed as a good investment for companies like that. I knew that if we could create some additional events, I’d have a chance at least to try to create some corporate interest in sponsoring those events. That, really as much as anything, was my motivation in trying to create a second day of events around All-Star: that we could bring the fans with the support of some corporate partners, and that really was an important part of launching [NBA Commissioner] David Stern’s success.
Rick Welts: But going backwards, I would say maybe the most personally gratifying was the launch of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). It was something that I think was clearly the right thing at the right time. I’m proud that the leadership of our league was willing to take that on as a very special project for those of us who were working there who really felt the time had come for a major women’s professional basketball league that had all of the financial and organizational support that the WNBA had when it got started. Here we are [19 years later], so its been so much fun to watch. I got to be part of a couple championship seasons with the Phoenix Mercury when I was in Phoenix with the Sun’s organization, which was really a very special thing.
When Jason Collins publicly announced his homosexuality in April 2013, Jackson told reporters, “I know Jason Collins; I know his family and am certainly praying for them.” This seemed particularly tone-deaf considering that Golden State COO Rick Welts, the first high-ranking sports executive to come out, worked in the same building. Welts says he approached Jackson and had “a nice conversation, like grown‑ups,” adding, “He knew how I felt, I knew how he felt. I’m sure he thought it was an opportunity to educate me, and I thought it was an opportunity to educate him.”