Throughout the halls of Berkeley High School (BHS), you’re bound to see students clad in blue and gold gear that displays the Bay Bridge logo of the Golden State Warriors. This basketball team has long been a symbol of the East Bay due to the Warriors at Oracle Arena, in Oakland. The Oakland tree logo has become synonymous with the Warriors, and in a way it has become the team’s second logo. Murals all over Oakland depict Warriors players, including one on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near a children’s hospital in which Stephen Curry is shown chewing on his mouth guard. However, the five-time world champions are relocating across the Bay to the young, affluent, tech-centered Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, a move that has raised questions about the Warriors franchise and about the Bay Area in general.
You cannot talk about what the Warriors move means without first recognizing both the historic socio-economic and racial differences that exist between Oakland and San Francisco, as well as the current issues of gentrification and the rising cost of living in the Bay Area. In other words, San Francisco is home to many more wealthy people and white people than Oakland. The plans for the Warriors to move to San Francisco commenced only two years after the team won the Nation Basketball Association (NBA) championship for the first time in forty years. This represents some officials’ desire to move towards the affluent white fan base and leave behind the more diverse, and less wealthy community of Oakland.
At the same time, the entire Bay Area is also undergoing a process of gentrification, which consists of richer people moving into neighborhoods that are less well-to-do. Tailoring the Warriors imago towards those who caused displacement throughout Oakland simply adds insult to injury for those of us in the East Bay.
“[Oracle Arena] has been my home for 10 years,” said Stephen Curry in The Mercury News. “I learned how to be an NBA player in this arena. It means everything.” Yet the Warriors are still unable to resist the monetary incentive of moving to San Francisco. The swanky new stadium will feature artisan eateries from across the Bay Area, including Bake Sale Betty’s, a popular chicken sandwich place, which is a clear play towards San Francisco foodies with money to spend. Every decision made in the design of the stadium seems to be trying to make a more expensive and exclusive experience for the wealthy people of Silicon Valley. The seating capacity in Chase Stadium is notably less than that of its Oakland counterpart; Oracle Arena seats just under 19,500 while Chase Stadium can only fit around 18,000. This, in combination with the newer stadium, will raise demand for tickets, and lead to higher prices.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Warriors recently unrolled the biggest scoreboard in the NBA, one that is ten times as big as the Oracle’s, which they hope to equip with augmented reality technology. They not only constructed 32 courtside lounges, complete with personal wine cellars and “private butlers,” but also developed a rooftop bar directed towards season ticket holders.
Whether the East Bay will reject the Warriors based on their decision to leave is what remains to be seen. Can everyone at BHS really throw away their blue and yellow jersey? Rick Welts, the Warrior’s president and chief operating officer, the man partially responsible for the move to San Francisco, declares towards fans, “The Warriors are leaving the building, but we’re not leaving [Oakland].”