The Warriors announced on Tuesday that groundbreaking will begin on their new downtown San Francisco Arena on Jan. 17. It’s already been a foregone conclusion that the Warriors were leaving Oakland, but this is another nail and a fresh dose of reality that the time is coming sooner rather than later.
Make no mistake, the Warriors heading to San Francisco will have ramifications. Lots of ramifications. And nobody is impacted more than the the Golden State Warriors fan — wherever they live in the Bay Area. I had a chance to talk about the Warriors and their move to SF on the Joe, Lo and Dibs show on 95.7-FM The Game.
Here are some rough excerpts and more thoughts:
–How will the move affect the fan base?
I think it’s going to be huge and it’s going to be a huge wild card, not knowing how the dynamic will be impacted. When the Nuggets were in town on Monday, it struck me how the fan base already has changed. It’s already changed and it’s going to change even more when they’re in San Francisco.
The Warriors always have had a special relationship with their fans, unique. It felt small and close. For decades it was impossible to talk about the Warriors without also talking about their fans — their loyal fans, or long-suffering fans, or passionate fans or hard-core fans. All of those. There’s always been a bond and some of that has gone away and even more will go away in San Francisco.
–The changing fan base:
An older generation of GSW fans is vastly different than younger fans. I think there’s a large segment of fans that have come along in the past 5 or 6 years and have never experienced anything but this crazy success. I think a portion of the fan base has gotten complacent and they expect this to be the norm. Even Steve Kerr addressed that the other night, about appreciating where we’re at right now. It’s like he knows this isn’t getting appreciated.
But there’s also a very long-standing fan base that have been around through a good time here and there but bad times mostly. They’ve hung in there now for 20-plus years, in many cases more. And I think some of them don’t feel like they have a place anymore.
–On Warriors fans getting complacent:
The Warriors are having their third straight year in which they’ve won 30 of their first 35 games to start the season — which has never been done before in NBA history. But if you go to Oracle Arena, you’ll notice it’s much quieter than ever before. People are leaving earlier and earlier. If people are already getting bored with this kind of unprecedented and historical success, what happens if they bring a so-so team to San Francisco?
The East Bay Warrior fan is the heart and soul of this fan base. There’s no telling how they will react when the team is a bridge away. I’m an Oakland resident and I don’t think it’s even come close to hitting home for us that we’re losing the Warriors. The next three years are going to be bittersweet, for sure now. Some may feel downright alienated.
I understand why Joe Lacob and Peter Guber want to move to San Francisco. There’s more money there, first, and also they get to leave an arena legacy to the city. I mean, if there’s one thing that seems like a no-brainer in all of this it’s that San Francisco should have an arena. I mean, I’m an Oakland resident and believe that. So I get it and do not criticize the move itself. But the move will have an impact on the fans, and it’s possible it will be more negative than positive.
–On leaving their home-court advantage:
The Warriors are moving away from the biggest home-court advantage in the NBA, most would agree. I understand the Warriors have done all kinds of tests and planning on acoustics for the new arena. Well, you might be able to create the noise, but likely not the atmosphere. We’ll see.
East Bay fans have treated the Warriors incredibly well. They’ve been loyal and for the most part come out through the lean years. What happens if the Warriors take a subpar team into their new arena? Three years is a long time. Not saying they will, saying what if?
It’s all going to be fascinating to watch.