SAN FRANCISCO — I was over at the Warriors’ new arena construction site last week when I met a bicyclist who said his name was Rodney. An excitable fellow with salt-and-pepper hair, he was riding in circles around the building.
In one hand he was holding a blue and gold sign that said: “Keep the Warriors in Oakland.”
There is still time to head off this move to SF, he said. Maybe at the ballot box. Maybe in court.
“They were in Oakland for 20 years,” he said. (Actually 47, but who’s counting?) “And they were profitable,” he added.
Let’s don’t kid ourselves. This is going to get ugly.
The Golden Staters say they intend to move to their new arena in October of 2019. As the 2018 season heads for the playoffs, the realization is hitting East Bay fans. Next season will be their last in Oakland. The Warriors are leaving.
But surely something can be done, true believers say. There are rallies, Facebook pages and petitions.
And yes, the loyal fans supported the team through drug scandals, Joe Barry Carroll and the dark days of owner Chris Cohan. They were there for the team when they weren’t winning. Now that they are two-time NBA champions, the boosters are fanatic.
Are we really saying that this franchise — now a global brand — is going to pack up, turn the Oakland Arena into a white elephant and move to San Francisco?
Yep. That’s pretty much it.
We need to confront some hard truths.
First, Rodney’s point about the team staying in Oakland was undercut a bit by the steel skeleton of the new arena, already rising six stories into the sky.
Steel girders outline the grandstand bowl and concrete to mount seats is already being poured. There are six construction cranes in motion at any given moment. This is a project well underway.
But it will be a delicate little extraction for the Warriors. They’re doing all they can, wearing their black “The Town” jerseys, a nod to Oaktown and counterpoint to “The City” shirts from the Cow Palace days in San Francisco.
They are saying all the right things, celebrating the history and praising the fans at every opportunity.
But this is still going to sting. The team has to strike the right balance between bragging about their awesome new digs, and not looking like they are trolling Oakland fans and the outdated Oracle Arena.
There will be predictable shock and horror at the exorbitant ticket prices. But if you’ve got the hottest team in the NBA — and the Warriors are — there will be people who will buy them.
Call it unfair if you wish, but it is really just a straight, cold business deal.
First, Oakland may host the Warriors, but Joe Lacob and Peter Guber own them. They are businessmen who did not become wealthy by sentimentally sticking with outdated infrastructure. Or by losing money.
The reality is this is a real estate development with an arena attached.
When the whole parcel is completed there will be 540,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail.