Last week, the Golden State Warriors' ownership announced plans of moving the team to San Francisco in 2017. Team owners, city officials and league dignitaries held a press conference and mugged for pictures, broadcasting their intentions, jilting the city of Oakland by celebrating a five-years-from-now moment.
Lost amid the resulting NBA hoopla and San Francisco civic fanfare are the innocuous repercussions that many proponents of the move may have overlooked. After all, bringing another professional sports franchise to an already snug metropolis in San Francisco makes even cozier confines on a given game day. Anyone who ventures out to SOMA/South Beach knows this.
Now, imagine two sports arenas within half a mile of one another along the magnificent waterfront. Re-route your after-work run down the Embarcadero. But that’s not all.
Game day is like a municipal holiday in San Francisco. Every home Giants game is a communal journey, with game-day attendees trekking to Mecca, AT&T Park, from all over town, bedecked in orange and black. That collective feel-good belonging also brings chaos to the northeast quadrant of the city.
As every San Franciscan knows, traffic snarls and public transportation crawls on game day. It’s a hassle to navigate one’s way around that area and to get to or around the freeway or train station.
Which isn’t to say that this doesn’t happen in other cities. Obviously most metropolises don’t have congestion and confusion. But not very many other cities have two full-scale professional sports arenas tucked into the corner of the city’s borders, which is where AT&T Park and the Warriors’ projected arena will be located.
Unless the arena will have a docking station in the bay, there will probably be few directions from which to enter and exit, which will make leaving the game a particularly cattle-like experience, as fans are herded out the door—slowly.
Again, this isn’t that big of a deal considering that most cities with professional sports teams experience the same mayhem. But what compounds SF’s disorder will be the fact that during the winter—during the NBA season—more commuters will choose to drive over taking public transportation on rainy nights, making getting to and from the arena that much more difficult. And for those East Bay attendees hopping on BART to the arena, it’ll only be that much more hectic to get to the game.
Thankfully, the NBA season doesn’t overlap with the MLB season all the much—most of the month of April. Unless the Warriors make a deep run into the postseason.
Make no mistake—the attractiveness of traveling to a Warriors game will be a fun experience. But the gridlock on game day will be a, ahem, female dog.
One of the major perks about being a billionaire—aside from owning a professional basketball team—is having billionaire friends and colleagues. Everyone is full aware of the tech-rich, social media-driven community of the Bay Area. And with the team’s intended move to San Francisco, Warriors games will end up becoming glad-handing B2B conferences attended by local industry bigwigs.
With all of the Internet companies within shouting distance of San Francisco, there will be numerous corporate suites filled from all of the business partnerships and sponsorships. Maybe the head honchos of Twitter or Yammer or Zynga will have courtside seats and become the Jack Nicholsons, Denzel Washingtons and Dyan Cannons of the Bay Area. Warriors games will be exactly like Los Angeles Lakers games, except instead of Hollywood elite in attendance there will be corporate celebrities.
Whoever those people are.
Another thing the Warriors will have to adjust to when they eventually move to San Francisco is the higher cost of living. Granted, the Dubs have stated they will finance the cost to build a new arena, so there won’t be specific rent due to the venue once constructed. But that doesn’t mean the Warriors won’t be paying a huge amount of money for their dream playpen.
According to the NYTimes.com, the franchise will have to pay an estimated $100 million in cost of repairs of the arena’s location along the San Francisco waterfront—Piers 30 and 32—along with other city building permits that will bring the total price tag to upwards of $500 million. But in a city with one of the nation’s highest costs of living (ranked No. 4 by the Huffington Post), everybody knows it’s not easy to remain financially competitive. Even pro sports teams.
The San Francisco Giants can attest to the harshness of the City’s economy. The restaurant located alongside AT&T Park has had three different iterations in the past decade. Could the businesses affiliated to the Warriors' new stadium have the same experience?
Maybe. What’s worse, however, will be that the arena will ultimately need to compensate for the higher cost of living by raising prices of concessions and team merchandise. Expect the price of those famous garlic fries to skyrocket. Pretzels will cost $10. A Charles Jenkins jersey will cost $75.
It’s going to be expensive to see a Warriors game.
San Francisco is an eclectic city full of cultural diversity and artistic creativity. Many people who transplant to the City by the Bay find solace in being able to express themselves in a variety of ways, from what they eat to who they listen to and which bicycles they ride.
The large hipster community monopolizes portions of San Francisco, latching onto the latest taco truck trends, sporting 1980s sunglasses. And they love basketball. Or at least they could. Maybe. If it’s fashionable not to like basketball, they’ll follow the Warriors.
Imagine a sea of plaid shirts swarming the Warriors’ arena on game day. The PA system inside is blasting Foster the People (or whatever band is cool in 2017—specifically, whatever band was formed in 2016). The concession stands are stocked full of organic curry burritos and PBR on tap.
It’ll be a wonderful dichotomy of corporate technology suits sitting courtside and radical hipster hoopsters manning the upper deck. Ahhh, San Francisco.
One thing that will not change with the Warriors relocating to San Francisco is the attendance numbers. The Dubs have traditionally had one of the most loyal and passionate fanbases in the NBA. And that’s with a drab, losing franchise playing in a somewhat outdated arena in the East Bay. In fact, last season, Golden State had the third-highest attendance average in franchise history.
Imagine how the team will draw when it moves to the fancier, sexier, wealthier city across the bay. In a new state-of-the-art arena, on the picturesque waterfront, teems of fans will follow the Warriors to San Francisco. That will not change.
With all of the corporate handouts, luxury boxes and ticket giveaways, the arena will be brimming with fans. It will be highly unlikely that the Warriors will not sell-out each and every night.
The only question will be whether or not the team is a winning team. Hopefully, the team will be successful on the court. Notice, however, that winning wasn’t an item that fans will look forward to.
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