Growing concerns over storied Cow Palace being torn down under new bill

A new bill that would decide the future of Cow Palace is raising concerns.

Opponents say they suspect the legislation is intended to tear down the iconic arena.

State senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 281. He says it addresses two important issues: Housing and gun shows. 

This comes as Cow Palace is about to celebrate its 78th birthday in April. It is owned by the state and is considered to be a fairground. The Grand National Rodeo calls it home.

The building was also home to the Golden State Warriors in the 1960's. The team played two finals games there during its 1974-75 championship. 

And for almost two decades, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair is held there on weekends during the holiday season.

"The event is extraordinarily beautiful," says Kevin Patterson, the event's producer. He is also executive director of the Save the Cow Palace Coalition. 

He says the fair may come to an end if the bill passes. If passed, the legislation would transfer control of the Cow Palace and its surrounding property to a new authority. It would consist of members appointed by the mayors of Daly City, San Francisco and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. 

"Right now, the Cow Palace is governed by a board of directors appointed by the state and is completely not responsive to the local community," says Wiener. 

The new authority would have the power to decide whether to continue to operate the Cow Palace or come up with a plan to build affordable housing on the site.

It would also ban gun shows.

"The Cow Palace gun shows are needing to be stopped and that would be a good thing. But this is not the place to solve the California housing crisis," says Patterson. 

He says the bill is a thinly disguised plan to tear down the Cow Palace.

"The Cow Palace basically ignores the local community and the gun shows are one example of that. People have been wanting those gun shows to go away for decades and the Cow Palace has refused to get rid of the gun shows," says Wiener. 

He says the Cow Palace is in bad shape and needs repairs.

Opponents say it's an icon that has a storied history. The Beatles are among the legendary musical talents who performed there and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. rallied for civil rights.  

Patterson says it's a venue that deserves to be preserved. “Creating a new bureaucracy on a state fairground is a very dangerous thing. The real estate value of this property will just about dictate that it ends up being housing," says Patterson. 

The first of three public hearings on this bill will be held this coming Wednesday at the state capital. If it passes both houses, it could go to Governor Gavin Newsom by mid-September. 
Patterson is urging people who love the Cow Palace to contact their lawmakers.

For more information, go to