'Eat Your Heart Out, Madison Square Garden,' Says Newsom, as Warriors' Chase Center Opens in S.F.

(L-R) Warriors COO Rick Welts, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Warriors Co-Executive Chairman Peter Guber, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob, Gov. Gavin Newsom, and JPMorgan Chase Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau unveil the Warriors’ Chase Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 3, 2019. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

Amid fireworks, music and dance performances, the Golden State Warriors opened the doors of their new San Francisco home, Chase Center, on Tuesday morning in Mission Bay.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor London Breed said she was happy to have the Warriors back in her city after nearly five decades playing across the bay.

“The future is here ... right now … in this ribbon-cutting today, of the world-class, championship-winning Golden State Warriors, who are gonna bring the championship to San Francisco,” Breed said.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, performers take to the stage to celebrate the opening of the Warriors’ Chase Center in Mission Bay in San Francisco, Sept. 3, 2019.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, performers take to the stage to celebrate the opening of the Warriors’ Chase Center in Mission Bay in San Francisco on Sept. 3, 2019. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

The Warriors were tenants of the Oakland Coliseum Arena for the past 47 years, but with the new center, the team owns its venue and will collect all revenue from events held there.

The team privately financed the construction of the stadium, which broke ground in January 2017, and has already earned back its initial $1.4 billion investment — and then some — from ticket sales, suite partnerships and corporate sponsorships, according to Warriors President and COO Rick Welts.

Chase Center sits on 11 acres of waterfront real estate that will eventually include a 5.5-acre park, about 20 restaurants and retail spaces outside the arena, two office buildings and a 10,000-square-foot Warriors store. Chase Center spokespeople estimate that the entire complex will generate more than $14 million each year in new tax revenues for the city.

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As he addressed the crowd and media Tuesday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom said a sports stadium seating more than 10,000 people was “the missing ingredient” in the recipe of San Francisco.

Now? “Eat your heart out, Madison Square Garden,” Newsom said.

The Warriors will play more than 40 regular and preseason games at the center each year, plus any postseason playoff games. But it won’t be just basketball that will be played at the stadium: an all-star concert lineup has already been booked, including Elton John, Janet Jackson, Chance the Rapper, and John Mayer.

The center expects to host nearly 200 events per year. The first event will be a performance by Metallica with the San Francisco Symphony this Friday.

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The Warriors have said they would like Chase Center to be a transit-first destination and have pledged $29 million toward updating infrastructure and expanding transit service. Nevertheless, critics of the arena say traffic during games and events will further congest the city's streets and slow down emergency vehicles on their way to nearby UCSF.

Economist and sports consultant Andrew Zimbalist said that the center seems like a good deal for the economic health of the city, but that other venues in the Bay Area may lose out.

“What you can expect is that most of the money that is spent at the arena will come at the expense of other entertainment venues in the Bay Area,” Zimbalist said. “People are not all of a sudden going to discover that they have an extra thousand dollars in their wallet and spend it.”

The Warriors will play their first preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 5.

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