The Golden State Warriors Left Oakland for San Francisco for Money, of Course


Apr. 21 2023, Published 12:39 p.m. ET

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their NBA championship in 2017.
Source: Getty Images

News recently broke that the Oakland A's, the last remaining pro sports franchise to front a team in the city of Oakland, would be leaving the city for Las Vegas. Following the news, many wondered why the NBA's Golden State Warriors, the first team to leave Oakland, ultimately decided to leave the city behind.

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Teams move cities all the time, but this change was significant enough to earn plenty of coverage when it happened in 2019, and is still discussed to this day.

Oracle arena in 2009.
Source: Getty Images
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Why did the Warriors decide to leave Oakland?

The Warriors left Oakland and their arena, Oracle Arena, behind in 2019 for a newly-built $1 billion arena called the Chase Center in San Francisco. One major reason for the move was this new arena — which had all the amenities that modern sports fans and athletes are accustomed to — included locker rooms that don't flood regularly. While the new stadium was certainly part of the reason, though, it wasn't the whole story.

Moving from Oakland to San Francisco was not the kind of uprooting that fans are familiar with. Everyone in San Francisco was already a Warriors fan, and everyone in Oakland was likely to remain one.

What did change, though, was which fans the Warriors wanted to cater to. San Francisco is a much wealthier, much whiter city than Oakland, and as a result, the Warriors could now sell tickets that were even more expensive than the ones they were selling in Oakland.

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Of course, part of the reason for this surge in ticket prices is that the Warriors were coming off of an era when they were one of the most dominant teams in the history of basketball. Ticket prices are bound to rise when your team is achieving at that level, but it speaks to the desires of the team's ownership that they felt a new arena in a new city could boost their profits even more.

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At the time, Rick Welts, the team's owner, explained the new stadium was necessary for the team to remain economically competitive.

"Part of that plan from the beginning was to build a new arena that would allow the Warriors to compete at the highest levels economically for player talent and for fan experience in the NBA," he told Forbes. "There was not a clear vision of where that was going to be, but we knew that we had to have a new arena to be able to be competitive long-term."

Economics is a depressing reality of sports.

Given the wealthier fan base, it was logical for the Warriors to move, both so they could make more money and so they could continue to front better teams. Of course, this move came at the cost of the scrappy, urban underdog quality that the Warriors had during their time in Oakland.

It's hard to root for a historically dominant team. It's even harder to root for them when they play out of the wealthiest city in the U.S.

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