The thought of leaving Oracle Arena in Oakland might be bittersweet to Warriors fans, but a move to San Francisco might be what is inherently best for the future of the franchise with the team announcing plans of a downtown arena project on May 22.
Moving to a larger market means more opportunities for the Warriors, as well as their fans. While the team always sees solid attendance numbers in the East Bay (the Warriors ranked 10th in NBA attendance last season despite their dismal 23-43 record), moving into a downtown location will likely increase the marketability of the team. Fans will now have options to explore San Francisco nightlife before and after games as bars, nightclubs and restaurants are just a hop, skip and a jump from the proposed Pier 30/32 location.
Impending free agents might also find themselves more attracted to playing in San Francisco. Last summer, the Warriors lost out on 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler to the mega-market New York Knicks and DeAndre Jordan to another more lucrative Los Angeles market. Perhaps if the Warriors were already committed to playing in a more robust city like San Francisco, one of those players would have opted to sign with the team.
While Oracle will always hold a special place in Bay Area hoop fans' hearts, it is the NBA’s oldest arena (though the interior was completely renovated in 1996-97) and is beginning to show signs of age. The acoustics at Oracle are far from state-of-the-art and can be especially difficult to hear in the higher levels, and simply, the area around the Arena is rather uninteresting.
There are no bars or clubs within reasonable walking distance for fans to seek out post game, and while the Warriors do offer an engaging basketball experience—minus winning nightly—merely seeing a basketball game isn’t enough for many adult fans these days.
Part team owner Joe Lacob claimed that the newly proposed arena would be a “world-class entertainment venue” indicating hopes that the San Francisco cite would grow into an ideal place for music concerts and other events. Oracle currently functions in the same measure, but again, poor sound quality really cripples events at the arena.
Transportation to the San Fransisco site would need no additional work, as the Piers are located just blocks away from the San Francisco Giants home at AT&T Park. The Embarcadero BART station is minutes away on foot from Pier 30/32, and though the parking might not be as ample as the Oakland lot, there are enough lots surrounding the area space to amply accommodate an NBA crowd of around 20,000.
The Warriors and their ownership group still have a few hurdles surrounding the project, but should the plans become final, both the organization and its fans have a lot to look forward to.
Now, if the Oakland Athletics could just figure out their future home. Perhaps they’ll build one over Oracle now.