By Justin Taylor
Is the end of Oracle Arena near?
Let me just start by saying that I’ll be going to games whether they are played in Oakland, San Jose or San Francisco. The first and most important question is whether or not I will have as much fun when I go. Maybe things will change as the new ownership group continues to make honest efforts to produce a winner but for the last 30 years the most entertaining part of going to Warrior games has been the crowd itself. Does the owner getting booed at Oracle act as additional motivation to cross the bay? Pricing out the most hardcore and loyal fans would probably take care of that problem.
I don’t think there is any bigger motivation for making such a move other than the cash that would pour in from new sponsors. The prospect of building their own stadium with as many luxury suites as possible and having the clientele to fill them probably comes in a close second. Outside of money what are the motivating factors? I guess that’s a stupid question because what other reasons do you need? My answer to every tough question in sports or in life is usually to say, “Follow the money.”
The other money angle in play is that San Francisco offers superior non-basketball related revenue streams. If he has his choice, where does Jay-Z play his next Bay Area show? San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose? How about U2, Madonna, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, (insert your own crappy teeny bopping name here) Chris Rock, Disney on Ice, the circus, WWE etc…The list goes on and on. San Francisco has lacked a big time arena venue for years and don’t think for a second that gets lost on Joe Lacob and his little Dodger buddy McGuber. If these guys can make this deal they will be making money hand over fist for more than just 41 shitty basketball games a year. It could be the premier venue on the west coast with its Embarcadero waterfront location.
Of all the proposed locations the SF logistics are the lousiest. BART doesn’t exactly drop you at Pier 30-32. It’s almost a cold ass winter mile long walk to that site and the Caltrain station is even further. On top of those two options being a royal pain, where do you park? There’s no question that if you can make a day in the city out of it, San Francisco cannot be beat. Outside of watching a Warrior game on a beach in Hawaii I can’t think of a better game day experience anywhere. Don’t let those visions make you forget about those days when you get off work, rush home, grab your hat and jersey, rush out to grab a bite to eat just in time to watch the Warriors get their teeth kicked in. I’m sure we’ll be better by then but did anyone see that Spurs game? The best part of that tragic excuse for a game was the fact that I was on 880 doing 80 in a matter of seconds. After the Spurs basically brought their starters out from halftime in street clothes I realized I might as well go home and find a D league game on TV.
Proposed site pulled from the Chronicle
My biggest concern about a move to The City is the in game atmosphere. I hate it when teams jack up prices and kick the most hardcore and loyal fans to the curb (or in the nuts, then to the curb) in favor of more suits and suites. I despise that move more then the Lakers and the Dodgers combined. That isn’t “sports hate” though, it’s “those greedy money grubbing bastards!” hate. I love it when I’m lucky enough to get hooked up with great seats to a game, even if it does only happen when we blow and people can’t get fair value for their seats. You think I’m getting good seats to the Laker game next year? How about when we move to the city? Anyways, the point is, I can’t stand getting stuck between some stuffy executive and another asshole banker when I do strike ticket gold. These guys care more about who is at the game than who is in the game. It’s a problem in the lower rows in Oakland and you can bet it will only get worse in San Francisco. Corporate crowds are the worst, give me a seat 20 rows back to sit with the real fans any day (unless you’ve got courtside or row 1 in which case everyone else can go to hell and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m thought of a clammed up crowd has me worried to say the least (I see some of my fellow Niner fans nodding along).
I see San Jose as nothing more then a play to keep Larry Ellison out. Just the prospect of moving to the South Bay means that the software tycoon can’t get approval to install his own hardware until they break ground somewhere else. These owners don’t want to purchase a timeshare at HP Pavilion and the city couldn’t be dumb enough to build a second arena, could they? It may just be the miserable experience from the late nineties but I don’t ever want to see the Warriors play there ever again. Our existence for the one season at the San Jose Arena was depressing. Even with a better roster (cause we can all agree it couldn’t be any worse than that one) it would just be a harsh reminder of our pathetic past. I realize that might be an idiotic statement considering our history in Oakland but even when the team craps it’s pants the crowds are world class.
I know it’s a different thought process for ownership but as a fan I have more questions than answers. Where are the advantages for fans in moving into a wealthier zip code? I’m a believer that the fans could care less where the stadium is as long as there is a decent entertaining team on the court. We haven’t even required that much to show up 20 of the last 30 years. Part of me thinks that all Lacob is doing with these other options (as much as we all know he’d love to be in SF) is to put as much pressure and leverage as possible on the city of Oakland. Joe and McGuber know full well that the prospect of losing the A’s, Warriors and probably the Raiders again will lead the city to cry uncle and comply with any and all demands in planning and building a new arena.
It seems Oakland’s biggest disadvantage revenue wise is the sponsorship issue. Have no fear though; I’ve got a solution for that one. Something nobody has tried in years. Put a freakin winner on the floor! Sponsors are worse than fair weather and bandwagon fans, they just want to be associated with a hero. Funny how I’m looking at a Lakers crowd at the Staples Center on TNT as I say that. Does anybody remember how hard it was to get tickets in 2007 or how much those seats cost? It didn’t matter; the pool of fans starving to watch a winner was so large they came in droves. Five minutes later Comcast was out in front handing out T-shirts and signs with a phrase that was jacked from a fan. “We Believe Playoff!” All they did was correct the English. I don’t think anyone believes that once the Warriors are contending for a title and setting the Bay Area on fire that companies in the Silicon Valley are going to say, “We only advertise within 40 miles of our headquarters and we hear bad things about Oakland.” The truth is they don’t give a shit as long as they know people with money are in the building and watching on TV.
East Oakland is what it is and a new arena won’t change it but that part of town doesn’t even come into play when you hop off 880 and into your seat within minutes. I do have another Oakland site that should be considered though. There is land the A’s considered for a stadium at the edge of the Jack London Square and the Port of Oakland they dubbed Victory Square that would breathe major life into the area. There is a spot on either side of Jack London, the A’s proposed site and one just on port property just on the north side of the area. They have a ton of brand new empty retail space that I’m sure 20,000 people coming through 60+ nights a year could fix. It’s also the most inviting part of Oakland (outside of the hills of course) and is the only potential destination spot in the city.
Remember what China Basin looked like before Pac Bell popped up? This place is on the water too. There are already transportation options with Amtrak, BART and space for parking not to mention dining and entertainment options in the neighborhood. You are probably halfway to making it a great downtown hotspot. It’s not LA Live but screw that whole scene down there. Give me some Everett and Jones Barbeque or some jazz and sushi at Yoshi’s over that wannabe Hollywood crap any day of the week.
TNT and ESPN's stock photo pulled from somewhere else.
What do ESPN and TNT do every time they televise a game from Oakland? They send lone camera (probably some intern or the guy no one likes) down to Jack London to show the country BEAUTIFUL Oakland, California while half of the audience says, “uh huh? Sure.” Put an arena down there and make it a destination for people outside of Oakland. Give the local and national news something to look at other than Occupy protests and murder rate statistics. If you’re from the area and think that the city is too stupid and/or corrupt to make that happen, well, I don’t have a comeback for that.
So if the stadium does end up in San Francisco what would the fan base look like at that point? Will I be sitting next to an out of town venture capitalist, a tourist or a real Warrior fan? Is there enough foot traffic in the city to fill the place night in night out since transportation and parking will suck? (Don’t think for a second that you won’t be paying $50 to park you’re car for a couple of hours.) Is Joe Lacob ready to get booed mercilessly on a nightly basis from the time they break ground across the bay until moving day? There are a lot of questions that need answers but I guess we’ve got about five years to figure it all out while the Golden State Warriors are Trapped in Oracle Arena.