ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES CLAPHAM
When the Golden State Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in June, it wasn’t just the end of the 2018-19 season; it was the end of an era for Bay Area basketball. The Dubs, as they’re known locally, are moving across the Bay Bridge, from Oakland’s Oracle Arena to a glitzy new home in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.
The 18,064-seat, privately funded, $1.4 billion Chase Center will see its first regular-season action on October 24, when the Dubs host the newly powerful Los Angeles Clippers. For some, the relocation is bittersweet. The Warriors had called Oakland home since 1971, fostering a loyal, diverse following. What’s more, the team, which has played in the last five NBA Finals (winning three championships), won’t be bringing the same dynastic roster to SF. Steph Curry and Draymond Green are still here (along with new addition D’Angelo Russell), but Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston have all departed, and Klay Thompson will miss much of this upcoming season with a knee injury.
Still, fans—the team estimates that almost 70 percent of the nearly sold-out season tickets are renewals from Oracle Arena—have plenty to look forward to. Chase Center is tailor-made for basketball: The arena is not convertible for hockey play, preserving sight lines; the concourses are enclosed to eliminate distractions; and the ceilings are relatively low, to help re-create the raucous environment of the old, so-called “Roaracle” Arena. “A lot of arenas are taller, but this design keeps fans close to the action,” says Warriors President and COO Rick Welts. “Players are energized by this, too.”
For those more concerned with the product on their plates than the players on the court, the arena offers concessions from more than a dozen beloved Bay Area mainstays, including Oakland’s Bakesale Betty and San Francisco’s Old Skool Café (a youth-run, jazz-themed supper club). Surrounding the stadium is an 11-acre entertainment, dining, and retail complex, Thrive City, headlined by a food hall from James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Mina.
The new arena offers an improved experience for the team, too. Unlike in Oakland, the practice facilities are adjacent to the locker room, and there’s a lounge and a barber shop for the players.
“These added benefits can separate one team from another,” says Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “Our players are, obviously, the ones who win games and, ultimately, championships. Anything we can do to gain a competitive advantage is a positive.”