One of the best things about watching the Warriors’ rise to dominance has been their relationship with the fervent masses at Oakland’s Oracle Arena. Quite possibly the loudest place to play in American professional sports at times, the place is filled with diehard fans who waited through the team’s long periods of incompetence and are loving every minute of the team’s golden age. But as so often happens, that unprecedented success is already drawing the Warriors away from their East Bay roots.
The Warriors plan to move to a new San Francisco arena for the 2019 season. While that story still has some twists and turns left (lawsuits have already delayed that move from 2018), it would take a miracle to keep the team in Oakland long term. Moving the team would be one of the most public blows in what residents see as a pitched battle to turn Oakland into the Brooklyn to San Francisco’s Manhattan — which is to say, to push out low-income residents to make room for well-off folks and turn Oakland into a slightly more reasonable version of the same expensive city that San Francisco is.
The Warriors are owned by Joe Lacob, who made his money in the tech industry like so many wealthy San Franciscans. His tech association draws the Warriors uncomfortably close to those San Francisco ideals that make proud Oaklanders bristle. From The Guardian:
“It upsets me all the time – the T-shirts that say ‘The City’ – that they refuse to call them the Oakland Warriors,” said Robert Parker, 62, a lifelong Warriors fan who works as a bartender in Oracle’s nosebleed sections. “It’s an insult to Oakland.”
Michael Tran, 37, an East Bay native and lifelong Warriors fan, explained the resentment from his end of the Bay Bridge: “We’re always in the shadow of San Francisco. We don’t call it the Oakland Bay Area.”
The tension is very real, even if it doesn’t come through in game broadcasts. The raw urgency of the Oracle’s crowd most obviously comes from watching Steph Curry grow from their young, fragile shooter into the two-time MVP, but if you wanted to, you could read it as the crowd wanting to soak up every moment as if it’ll be their last. That’s both because of the historic nature of the Warriors’ run and the fact that the team belongs less and less to the city that nurtured it. Instead, it belongs to these guys:
“San Francisco is the most important and innovative city in the world, so having the most innovative team in the history of the NBA only makes sense,” said Jason Calacanis, a tech angel investor.
Get ready to stop liking the Warriors if and when they move to San Francisco and become the Tech Yankees of the NBA.
(Via The Guardian)