SAN FRANCISCO -- On a cool Tuesday by the bay, the Warriors celebrated The House Being Built On The Sweat And Adoration Of Stephen Curry. And it was quite the spectacle, from the church choir warming festivities to the heavy-equipment cranes performing a synchronized dance routine.
After nearly five years of visualizing and planning and plotting and adjusting -- and, above all, turning around a once-hapless NBA franchise -- the Warriors successfully navigated the maze of litigation, coming out reaching for hard hats and shovels.
Construction on what officially will be known as Chase Center, built at a cost upward of $1 billion, can commence because there are no further legal hurdles to clear. The Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco in 1962, and then to Oakland in 1971, and now they’re packing up and crossing the bridge back to San Francisco.
How did Warriors CEO Joe Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber, who completed the purchase of the team in November 2010, accomplish such an enormous feat?
They planned early. They hired in 2011 a polished dealmaker in president/COO Rick Welts. They were unfailingly optimistic and persistent and adaptable. They listened. They made concessions. They would not and could not, ever, give up.
It’s basically the same strategy that helped them land Kevin Durant, who was the only player at the ceremony.
But there are two more factors that absolutely were critical. One, Lacob and Guber asked for no public money. And, two, they steadily improved their product.
Which brings us back to Curry. The quest for a new building benefitted mightily from the new owners inheriting Curry, who in revolutionizing the sport also revived a dormant franchise. He is the primary reason for the newly robust state of the Warriors, who followed Curry to their first championship in 40 years.
“That gave us tremendous momentum,” Guber acknowledged after the nearly two-hour ceremony in Mission Bay. “It gave us tremendous market awareness. It gave us the strength to know we could hit our numbers. It gave us the strength to know that the San Francisco Bay Area was getting a team that wasn’t a flash in the pan, but one that was built to sustain itself.”
Suddenly, the Warriors were the hottest team in California, no matter the sport. Try walking a block in the Bay Area during working hours without seeing someone rocking Warriors gear. Popularity raises the profile and also has influence.
If the Warriors choose to retain the name “Golden State,” instead of reclaiming the designation “San Francisco” Warriors, as they were known from 1962 to 1971, that also could be traced back to rise of Curry and his ability to lift his teammates and, by extension, the entire region.
Lacob said Tuesday that there’s a good chance the Warriors retain the name “Golden State,” echoing comments made by Welts on the CSN Warriors Insider Podcast of Jan. 5. The reasoning, according to the Warriors, is that the name has become widely recognized and, now, synonymous with success -- much as the former Boston, now New England, Patriots of the NFL.
“We are the Golden State Warriors,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s not up to me, but I don’t want it to change. It’s a unique name; it’s the only one like it in the league. I would like to see that remain. I fully believe we are still the Bay Area’s team, no matter whether we’re playing in Oakland or San Jose or San Francisco.”
There was much joy in the room, particularly on stage, Tuesday afternoon. Along with Lacob, Guber, Welts, Kerr and Durant were San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Chase bank executive Thasunda Duckett. All seven had complimentary things to say, with Durant even facing an artists’ rendering of Chase Center and saying “it’ll be fun playing in there.”
Curry was not attendance Tuesday, though he has appeared a previous gatherings regarding the new building.
Chase Center, covering 11 acres, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019, two years behind the original projections stated by Lacob and Guber back in 2012, long before they secured naming rights. From multiple lawsuits to a major site change to more lawsuits, the road to Groundbreaking Day was fraught with challenges.
The organization overcame them all, with a crucial assist from the point guard.