Chase Center faces uphill battle to match loud Warriors fans of Oracle


Chase Center faces uphill battle to match loud Warriors fans of Oracle

SAN FRANCISCO – Chase Center will not have concessions.

It will have “eateries,” 37 in all.

The Warriors locker room, weight room and practice courts are referred to, in the collective, as the “Players Campus.”

Chase Center may be a 15-mile drive from Oracle Arena, the team’s former home, but exists on an entirely different planet.

The Warriors opened the doors Monday morning for a guided tour that revealed the poshest basketball arena on earth. Less than three years after CEO Joe Lacob and his primary partner, Peter Guber, said their privately financed -- to the tune of $1.4 billion -- project would result in a spectacular, state-of-the-art facility, it is evident they meant every word.

“What do you think? Pretty nice, huh,” chief revenue officer Brandon Schneider said while standing in the J.P. Morgan Club, perhaps the most upscale of the various lounges within the 18,000-seat arena.

“Nice” is an understatement, as Schneider surely knows. Chase Center is a monument to its own magnificence, from boasting the largest scoreboard (9,699 square feet) in the NBA, to its suitably broad concourses, its 23 bars, its 552 taps, its 1,111 TVs, its 74-by-42-foot screen on the outdoor plaza, its 3.2 acres of plaza space and the 5.5-acre public park on the waterfront across the street.

From the spectacular groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 17, 2017 until Monday morning -- 11 days before the first event on Sept. 5 -- the cost has been near equal amounts of dollars and perspiration.

"It's been an amazing journey, it hasn't always been easy, nothing is," team president and COO Rick Welts said. "A project this size in San Francisco is daunting, to say the least.

“But we are on the verge of cutting the ribbon."

Chase Center is neither garish nor excessive. If there is anything to knock, it is the segregation of seating based on finances. Though that applies to every arena ever built, it’s particularly overt at Chase.

There is a maze of private rooms, private suites and private areas with levels of comfort and relative seclusion commensurate with cost. Those who wish to avoid rubbing shoulders with hoi polloi will be delighted to plunk down $2 million per year for one of the 32 suites that satisfy that desire. Those suites include courtside seats, wine from a personal cellar beneath the lower bowl and, of course, a butler to fetch any requests.

Only two remain available for the 2019-20 season.

Which makes it reasonable to wonder if these folks will deign to even try to match the lung power from the throats that made Oracle roar.

That’s the biggest question of all. Can those strolling into Chase Center, with its Symphony Hall luxury and all its internal pampering, be properly engaged by quality hoops to muster the disposition that made Oracle such an imposing building to visiting NBA teams?

Welts has consistently indicated that the venue is built to enhance acoustics. He meant every word. The seating is dense, the ceiling is low and there is plenty of concrete to amplify sound. From a construction point of view, the Warriors have done their part.

From a competitive point of view, the Warriors will do their part. With good health, they’ll be a playoff team to be feared.

But the cost of business -- this building is, after all, its own mint -- has priced out most of the blue-collar fans that revel in loudly cheering the Warriors and blasting aural hate upon opponents. As of Monday afternoon, the cheapest ticket available for the Oct. 30 game against the Suns is $79, not including binoculars.

[RELATED: Take a first look at the inside of Warriors' Chase Center]

It’s inevitable that at least some of the unbridled passion that defined Oracle at its best will give way to world-weary apathy from those bringing boardroom energy to Chase.

It’ll be up to those folks in the upper regions, nearly close enough to touch the ceiling, to carry on the tradition. The Modelo Cantina and Bar sits on the north end of the concourse skybar, and it has potential. There’s room for 140 season-ticket holders, but the place can be accessed by anyone with a ticket. There is bar-area standing room for many, many more.

Hoping the ambiance of old Oracle can be replicated by folks at sparkling new Chase is an admirable endeavor. If the Warriors can pull it off with this crowd, it will be an impressive feat indeed.

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell is rapidly approaching a date some NBA observers have circled since the Warriors acquired him this summer.

Golden State can trade Russell as soon as Sunday, Dec. 15, and the 23-year-old has been the source of trade speculation during his time in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday, citing sources that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain interested in Russell" and that the guard "seems to be realistic in understanding that he may not be long for the Warriors once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return to full health."

Russell is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this season to go with 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, serving as the top offensive option in the absence of his All-Star teammates. He knew he wouldn't play much with Thompson this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but Curry's broken hand threw a wrench into the Warriors' -- and thus Russell's -- prospects this season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised how Russell has handled the rumors surrounding him. 

"Money doesn't buy peace of mind," Kerr said Friday morning (H/T San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau). "It doesn't buy a sense of belonging, a sense of, 'Alright, this is my team.' If there's speculation that you're going to be traded all the time, I don't care how much money you make, I don't care who you are. That's tough. That's no fun to deal with, and this season has been nowhere close to what D'Angelo thought it would be when he first signed with us.

"There's no Steph. We're struggling to win games. He's had his own injuries, and we're throwing all kinds of different lineups out there based on the other injuries we've faced." 

Russell has played in just 15 of the Warriors' 27 games this season, playing on a team that looks far more like the Los Angeles Lakers of his first two seasons than the playoff-contending Brooklyn Nets a year ago -- let alone the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors. 

[RELATED: How Warriors' Chriss earning chance to start at center]

Kerr, who entered this season with the highest winning percentage in NBA history (.785), is as aware of Golden State's dramatically different reality as anyone. He said it has only brought out the best in Russell. 

"So given all that, he's played really well, and he's been a great teammate and he's doing everything he needs to do to solidify his position here," Kerr continued. "But this is the NBA here, and we never know what's coming, what's happening. So, it's a difficult position to be in in general, but for him in particular it's strange set of circumstances and he's handling it really well." 

Whether or not the Warriors trade Russell, it's clear Kerr holds him in high regard.

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Warriors two-way guard Ky Bowman made his G League debut Friday night in Santa Cruz.

He dominated the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. 

The Boston College product could have scored 40 points if he really wanted to, but he picked his spots and made sure his teammates were getting good looks.

After shootaround in Utah on Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what Bowman can work on while he's with the Sea Dubs.

"He's got a really aggressive mindset -- which I like -- but there are still circumstances and situations where he needs to think more pass," Kerr said. "And more strategic, rather than just score, score, score."

Bowman clearly listened to the eight-time NBA champion.

[RELATEDWhy Dubs might be very active before, after trade deadline]

Also, "Sky Bowman" was on full display.

The 22-year-old will be back in action Sunday afternoon as Santa Cruz faces the Northern Arizona Suns. Watch the game at 2:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

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