In Depth

Chase Center: a gold-standard new home for NBA’s Golden State Warriors

State-of-the-art basketball and entertainment arena opens in San Francisco

New York’s Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’s Staples Center have legendary status among NBA fans in the United States, but in San Francisco a new rival has emerged in the battle to be the world’s No.1 basketball arena. 

According to Ranker.com the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers, currently sits top of its poll of the “Best NBA Arenas”, while MSG, home of the New York Knicks, is third on the list. 

That poll could dramatically change in the next year as basketball fans visit the $1.4bn (£1.1bn) Chase Center to watch an NBA match for the first time.

Described by Business Insider as the “most luxurious arena in sports”, the Chase Center is the new home of six-time NBA champions the Golden State Warriors. It will also host major events and concerts in the Californian city. 

At the grand opening on 6 September Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony held a historic concert and since then acts such as Elton John, Eric Clapton and Janet Jackson have also performed at the new arena. 

However, Warriors fans had to wait until 5 October to see stars such Steph Curry and Draymond Green on their new home court. The Warriors took on LeBron James’s Lakers in a pre-season game and it was the LA side who claimed a 123-101 victory.

‘New sports jewel’

The Warriors have been located in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1962 and before the move they played their home games in Oakland. 

It will take a while for the Warriors to settle into their new surroundings but for fans and staff the move has been greeted with huge enthusiasm. Quoted by USA Today after the opening fixture Warriors general manager Bob Myers said: “I think it’s great! I think it’s the best!” 

Two-time MVP Curry added: “We have everything we need here in terms of pre-game prep. When we practice here we have all the bells and whistles to get ready for games. 

“Fans will get used to Chase Center. So, the energy and noise will get comparable to Oracle [Arena in Oakland], if not louder. So I’m excited about that.”

With 18,064 seats, the largest centre-hung scoreboard in the NBA and facilities such as 136 suites, 23 bars and 32 courtside lounges, it’s no wonder the arena has impressed. 

Ricardo Vaquier García Valseca of Mexican publication El Medio Tiempo said: “The new sports jewel in the world lives in San Francisco, it is called Chase Center and will be home not only to the NBA with the Warriors, but also to concerts and even WWE. 

“If New York has the Madison Square Garden and London the O2 Arena, the Golden State Warriors promise to be at the level of the best arenas in the world with the Chase Center.”

Golden State Warriors played the LA Lakers in a pre-season game at Chase Center on 5 October

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Warriors can thrive

The Chase Center is the centrepiece of a new neighbourhood - Thrive City - that has been developed in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. 

A multi-purpose, privately-financed complex, Thrive City features office buildings, retail outlets, bars, restaurants, art installations, a plaza, public space and is connected to the rest of the city with several transportation links. There are also plans for a hotel to be completed by 2023 and a new 5.5-acre park.

Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts was speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London on 8 October and he explained more about the huge project.  

“San Francisco’s never had a world-class sports and entertainment arena, but we’re really thrilled what we have brought to the area,” said Welts. 

“We had our first basketball game [on 5 October], so after 16 other events we could actually do what we developed this for… basketball.” 

In the design and construction phase Welts and his team visited many other arenas to make sure that the Chase Center was not just going to be the best for basketball but also for concerts and events. 

“We visited every single NBA arena and picked out little bits and pieces,” he added. “It was important to have a focus and we made a decision: it was going to be the greatest building ever for basketball and for concerts. 

“We actually decided to make the building smaller, we had a 19,500 [capacity] in Oakland, we have an 18,000-people capacity in San Francisco. Everything about it was meant to enhance the atmospherics around the basketball game.

“We’re not bashful, we spent more money that has ever been spent on an arena before. We want to earn the reputation with every artist in the world that Chase Center has to be on your resume to have a complete career.”

Chase Center is the new home of NBA team the Golden State Warriors
Home advantage

Warriors play their first NBA regular-season home game at the Chase Center against the LA Clippers on 24 October and star point guard Curry says the team needs to get a “normal” routine at the arena.

Once that happens he believes it can provide the Warriors with big advantages over their opponents in the NBA. 

Curry said: “You’re used to certain sights and sounds and just routine from pulling up to the parking deck and to our locker room and all that type of stuff. You get out to the floor and you want to feel like it’s normal, but it’s not. 

“We [have] got pre-season to get a little bit more familiar before the 24th. But it’s beautiful. It’s got a lot of potential to create an amazing environment, amazing home court advantage. Excited about the possibilities.”

Media reactions: ‘Roman coliseum for basketball’

Michael Wilbon, ESPN

“It’s unlike anything in sports in North America. It’s an entertainment centre and the Warriors happen to play there. It’s like the Roman coliseum for basketball. It’s going to be the greatest thing in sports.” 

Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle

“I spent an evening at Chase Center and it was impressive. For natives, like me, the arena is a long time coming. Not because it brings the Warriors back to the city but because we haven’t had a state-of-the-art music venue in San Francisco proper.”

Justice Delos Santos, The Mercury News

“It wouldn’t be fair to arrive at a final verdict after one, early October basketball game. That being said… it doesn’t take much to understand why it took $1.4bn to build this gymnasium. When it comes to the accouterment, it laps Oracle Arena in nearly every facet. There is no mistaking that Chase Center is a marvellous, state-of-the-art facility.”

Patrick Murray, Forbes

“The success or failure of Chase Center needs to be judged on its own merits. It is a venue built for a global audience, by a company catapulting itself to grander ambitions. The basketball matters - it is the core of the arena, after all - but it is not the only experience the Warriors are seeking to offer.” 

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