Oracle’s Post-Warriors Future

Should the NBA’s Golden State Warriors – currently in the league playoffs defending its 2015 championship – depart  for shiny new digs across the bay in San Francisco, Oakland’s Oracle Arena may face an uncertain future.

Fans may hold the building in regard for its history – the NBA championship and the recent record-breaking 73 regular season wins the team notched up in its present run to repeat. But it’s a 50-year-old arena likely soon to be without its anchor sports tenant and with new competition for concerts to t expired last year, they found the rent tripled. Whether it’s wise for the Authority to repeat that game of hardball with the Warriors is an open question, and it’s in lease extension talks with the Warriors now.

The Raiders are reportedly flirting with developer interests that want to build a stadium in Las Vegas, potentially leaving the Oakland campus with only baseball’s Athletics remaining as a pro sports tenant – and the A’s are looking for new digs, too. As for Oracle Arena, McKibben told the Chronicle the 19,200-capacity venue won’t fade into obscurity if the Warriors leave, despite competition for concerts and other events at Chase Center, in addition to  down the road in San Jose.

“Our plan as I see it right now is to absolutely continue to operate it,” McKibben told the paper. “It will be a wonderful venue for entertainment and a world-class venue for large sporting events like the NCAA final for March Madness.” Oracle Arena is not exactly a crumbling hulk. It may be 50 years old, but it’s had some work done in the form of $140 million in bonds to upgrade the entire facility, virtually building a new arena from the inside out to add luxury suites, escalators, scoreboards, new locker rooms and club areas, and higher-end concessions.

For that rehab, the Warriors pay about $7.5 million annually to defray the debt, plus $1.5 million per year in rent, according to the Chronicle. The city of Oakland and Alameda County pay operating costs but get a cut of concessions and parking, ticket sales and naming rights.

McKibben has also said he believes the arena will make more money without the NBA champs and their superstar draw, Steph Curry. Without having to block out 40 to 60 days a year for basketball, he told the Chronicle, the Authority expects to collect all proceeds from the suites, signage, sponsorships and ticket sales.