Chase Center faces uphill battle to match loud Warriors fans of Oracle

Monte Poole

SAN FRANCISCO – Chase Center will not have concessions.

It will have "eateries," 37 in all.

The Warriors locker room, weight room and practice courts are referred to, in the collective, as the "Players Campus."

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Chase Center may be a 15-mile drive from Oracle Arena, the team's former home, but exists on an entirely different planet.

The Warriors opened the doors Monday morning for a guided tour that revealed the poshest basketball arena on earth. Less than three years after CEO Joe Lacob and his primary partner, Peter Guber, said their privately financed -- to the tune of $1.4 billion -- project would result in a spectacular, state-of-the-art facility, it is evident they meant every word.

"What do you think? Pretty nice, huh," chief revenue officer Brandon Schneider said while standing in the J.P. Morgan Club, perhaps the most upscale of the various lounges within the 18,000-seat arena.

"Nice" is an understatement, as Schneider surely knows. Chase Center is a monument to its own magnificence, from boasting the largest scoreboard (9,699 square feet) in the NBA, to its suitably broad concourses, its 23 bars, its 552 taps, its 1,111 TVs, its 74-by-42-foot screen on the outdoor plaza, its 3.2 acres of plaza space and the 5.5-acre public park on the waterfront across the street.

From the spectacular groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 17, 2017 until Monday morning -- 11 days before the first event on Sept. 5 -- the cost has been near equal amounts of dollars and perspiration.

"It's been an amazing journey, it hasn't always been easy, nothing is," team president and COO Rick Welts said. "A project this size in San Francisco is daunting, to say the least.

"But we are on the verge of cutting the ribbon."

Chase Center is neither garish nor excessive. If there is anything to knock, it is the segregation of seating based on finances. Though that applies to every arena ever built, it's particularly overt at Chase.

There is a maze of private rooms, private suites and private areas with levels of comfort and relative seclusion commensurate with cost. Those who wish to avoid rubbing shoulders with hoi polloi will be delighted to plunk down $2 million per year for one of the 32 suites that satisfy that desire. Those suites include courtside seats, wine from a personal cellar beneath the lower bowl and, of course, a butler to fetch any requests.

Only two remain available for the 2019-20 season.

Which makes it reasonable to wonder if these folks will deign to even try to match the lung power from the throats that made Oracle roar.

That's the biggest question of all. Can those strolling into Chase Center, with its Symphony Hall luxury and all its internal pampering, be properly engaged by quality hoops to muster the disposition that made Oracle such an imposing building to visiting NBA teams?

Welts has consistently indicated that the venue is built to enhance acoustics. He meant every word. The seating is dense, the ceiling is low and there is plenty of concrete to amplify sound. From a construction point of view, the Warriors have done their part.

From a competitive point of view, the Warriors will do their part. With good health, they'll be a playoff team to be feared.

But the cost of business -- this building is, after all, its own mint -- has priced out most of the blue-collar fans that revel in loudly cheering the Warriors and blasting aural hate upon opponents. As of Monday afternoon, the cheapest ticket available for the Oct. 30 game against the Suns is $79, not including binoculars.

[RELATED: Take a first look at the inside of Warriors' Chase Center]

It's inevitable that at least some of the unbridled passion that defined Oracle at its best will give way to world-weary apathy from those bringing boardroom energy to Chase.

It'll be up to those folks in the upper regions, nearly close enough to touch the ceiling, to carry on the tradition. The Modelo Cantina and Bar sits on the north end of the concourse skybar, and it has potential. There's room for 140 season-ticket holders, but the place can be accessed by anyone with a ticket. There is bar-area standing room for many, many more.

Hoping the ambiance of old Oracle can be replicated by folks at sparkling new Chase is an admirable endeavor. If the Warriors can pull it off with this crowd, it will be an impressive feat indeed.

Chase Center faces uphill battle to match loud Warriors fans of Oracle originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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