Tech courts its own basketball team

May 25, 2012, 4:12 PM UTC

FORTUNE — San Francisco is likely getting a new toy. This week, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors announced their intentions to move the Oakland-based team across the bay to San Francisco, complete with plans for a swanky new arena. Yes, the team stressed it would need the cooperation of civic leaders to build the arena in time for its expected move-in date of 2017. But, once it’s built, the team will need another group even more: the tech community.

The new $500 million arena, to be built along the city’s waterfront on piers 30 to 32, is a stone’s throw from the offices several marquee web brands including Twitter, Yelp (YELP), and Zynga (ZNGA). Those are the kinds of companies that will have to fill luxury suites and buy corporate tickets.

“This is the tech world right here,” said Peter Guber, co-executive chairman of the Warriors, during press conference on the future building site. Joe Lacob, the team’s other chairman, at least has a sense of humor about how much help they’ll need. This NBA season marked the Warriors’ 50th anniversary in the Bay area. “With the cost of this arena, it may take us 50 years to pay it back,” he quipped.

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The financial upside of an arena in the city seems obvious for the sports team. Commerce in the region flows out of San Francisco, and it will be a lot more convenient for tech bigwigs to hold events and entertain guests at a game on their side of the peninsula. “Now we can get all the tons of startups out there who didn’t want to drive over the bridge from Oakland,” says Greg Uhrik, manager of corporate and premium development for the Warriors. “Getting the tech world was definitely one of the intentions in moving to the city.” Uhrik is in charge corporate sponsorships and sales of VIP and corporate season tickets and luxury suites.

He declined to share specifics on what Silicon Valley companies currently have corporate relationships with the team, though he says almost all of the big tech companies have accounts. (Eddy Cue, Apple’s (AAPL) senior vice president of Internet software and services, has often been seen at Warriors games.) Uhrik did however mention one notable absentee. “Twitter is out there [in San Francisco],” he says. “They don’t do anything with us now, but I’m sure they will. I’m going to try to get them to.”

Co-owner Lacob also has personal tech ties that could serve him well; he’s a partner at legendary Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. “If a Kleiner partner owns the team, you can count on the fact that they’ll be putting the squeeze on all the law firms, and on all the startups that they’ve helped go public,” says Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley futurist and consulting professor at the Stanford engineering school.

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The Valley has its share of sports fan CEOs, from Salesforce’s (CRM) Marc Benioff to Valley ex-pat Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who bought the team partly with his Internet riches. Oracle’s (ORCL) Larry Ellison famously played basketball on his yacht. In fact, Ellison is perhaps tied to the story more than he’d like. In 2010, he desperately wanted to buy the Warriors when the team went up for sale, but was outbid in the eleventh hour by Lacob and a team of investors for a record $450 million, the most anyone has ever paid for an NBA team. The parcel of land where the new arena will stand was previously unavailable, earmarked for another facility until those organizers abandoned their plans. Those organizers? Larry Ellison and the America’s Cup team.

But focusing on the established companies may not be the team’s biggest concern (especially because they say they’ve got much of that business already). The real test for the arena — and the economies it will affect — is attracting the smaller guys. Of course, the expected completion date is not until 2017 — which is decades in Silicon Valley time. So, many of the tech companies they’ll need to woo may not even exist yet.