Cautionary tale: State-of-the-art arena doesn't guarantee heart and soul

MANICA Architecture

Cautionary tale: State-of-the-art arena doesn't guarantee heart and soul

Since 2010 there have been many new stadiums, ballparks and arenas opened by professional franchises in North America totalling costs over $15 billion. The race to be the best building in the country is usually accompanied by extremely positive media reviews.

“Most Technologically Advanced Venue in the World”
---NY Times

“The Highest-Tech Stadium in Sports is Pretty Much a Giant Tesla”

“The New Arena was Designed with (fill in city here) in Mind”
---Sports Illustrated

Teams, leagues, cities, architects, construction companies and elected officials enjoy the lists of firsts, biggests, bests, coolest in three major areas.

  1. BEST BUILDING: Design, sustainability, connectivity, building materials. 

     2. FAN EXPERIENCE: Food, fan apps, service, HD video boards, VR, pricing, public transportation.   

     3. COMMUNITY: What economic impact -- typically thousands of new jobs and millions in new tax revenue -- will the new construction have on the area? 


No matter how much steel, glass, gourmet food, technology, premium seating, VIP space, video magic, planning and logic are injected into into new sports venue, the ultimate challenge for team owners and management is to create a cathedral that captures the heart and soul of the team -- a new town square where all fans feel welcome.

Fans may fall in love with a new facility, as they did with then-Pac Bell Park, or the jury may still be out with multiple questions, as with Levi’s Stadium. It takes time for a sports venue to mature. The most important part of the new venue equation is the fan base that fill the seats with its time, money and passion. 

The Warriors’ San Francisco Arena, Chase Center, will have its groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 17. The arena is scheduled to open at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season in Mission Bay. Construction costs are said to be in the area of $1 billion.

Plans for a new Warriors arena have been in the works since the Joe Lacob-Peter Guber ownership group took over in 2010. San Francisco was the largest major city in America without a modern multi-purpose arena. The original location, along Piers 30-32, was abandoned based on environmental concerns, increased costs, and potential construction delays caused by regulatory hurdles and lawsuits from the Mission Bay Alliance (MBA).

“We have been looking forward to this day since we first had the vision of building a privately financed state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex in San Francisco and are excited for what this will bring to the city of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area community,” Warriors president Rick Welts said. “Chase Center and the surrounding area will serve as a destination for the entire community and we will continue to work to make sure it is the best experience possible for everyone to enjoy NBA basketball, concerts, family shows, conventions and more.”

The Warriors' magic carpet ride of success is perfectly timed for marketing their new home. The 49ers could not have written a better script as they ramped up to move from Candlestick to Santa Clara, turning it around from from years of mediocrity to reach the Super Bowl under Jim Harbaugh.

Timing, team performance, branding opportunity and market competition are key drivers toward generating piles of cash with a new sports facility..

Major income streams for financing the Arena will be coming from three main sources.

  1. PREMIUM SEATING: The sale of premium seating composed of suites, courtside seats, club seats and lower bowl seats between the free throw lines. 
  2. NAMING RIGHTS: Industry estimates say that JP Morgan Chase is paying the Warriors over $200 million, exceeding what Barclays Bank paid for the Brooklyn Nets' arena. 
  3. FOUNDING PARTNERS: The Warriors will generate tens of millions of dollars from the sale of “founding partner” arena sponsorships. These relationships usually include cash, advertising opportunities, business services, philanthropic partnerships and the opportunity to introduce new technologies in the arena. The Warriors' ascent over the past few seasons has solidified a number of their major corporate partners with deals approaching $1 million or more. Those companies are American Express, Kaiser Permanente, City National Bank, Visa, Clorox and Oracle. They have already inked United Airlines and Accenture as Founding Partners for the Chase Center.


Current and future Warriors season ticket holders, suite owners and single game ticket holders are eagerly waiting to see what the pricing menu will look like for the new building.

The 49ers were extremely successful in the sale of Stadium Builder Licenses (SBLs) for Levi's Stadium based on their winning ways and future promise. If they were just now, ramping up for a new stadium, after a 2-14 season, those sales might be far different. 

Will the Warriors be the first team to sell Venue Builder Licenses (VBLs) for an arena? VBLs would give fans the right to own their seat locations and purchase season tickets over a certain number of years. 

The Warriors believe there's “strength in numbers.” Their fans can’t wait to see just how strong those ticket price numbers will be.

Draymond Green knocked out of game vs Spurs with pelvic contusion


Draymond Green knocked out of game vs Spurs with pelvic contusion

Already down three All-Stars, the Warriors lost their fourth midway through the first half on Monday night.

With just over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter against the Spurs, Draymond Green took a knee from a driving Danny Green.

Draymond was in immediate pain and left the court for the locker room.

Just before the end of the first half, NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke reported that Green was ruled out for the rest of the game with a "midsection issue."

Early in the second half, the Warriors diagnosed that Green suffered a pelvic contusion and that x-rays were negative.

The Warriors are currently playing without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. All three are dealing with injuries that will keep them out several games.

What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'


What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'

The Warriors were the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

That is probably going to change this season, as they trail the Rockets by three games (although it's really four because Houston has the tiebreaker) with 12 games to play (and only lead the Raptors by one game).

What does owner Joe Lacob think about his team right now?

“We’ve had our best team we’ve ever had this year,” Lacob recently told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group (read the full story here). “We have to go prove it on the court, but we have enough to win it.

"It doesn’t mean we will, but we are certainly set up to have the opportunity potentially to do that. That’s about all you can ask.”

Things can change in an instant and Lacob understands that.

That's why he's constantly discussing scenarios with Warriors GM Bob Myers and the rest of Golden State's decision-makers.

“We’ll build around that core until we decide maybe we shouldn’t," Lacob told BANG. "But right now it feels pretty good. These guys are all performing at a great level. We love them as part of our organization.

"I don’t really see doing anything major. But you never really know. We have to evaluate when the season is over. It’s very hard when you’re in the middle of it all to see it objectively.”

What happens if the Warriors don't win the championship this year?

We will leave you with this quote Lacob gave BANG.

“Maybe we will emphasize continuity. Or maybe we will make a big move. We’re looking at different options, given different things playing out in different ways.

"I think you should always be doing that.”

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller