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Warriors president discusses Chase Center fan experience

Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts has expressed his desire for the NBA basketball team’s new Chase Center arena to become a 365-day-a-year facility as the countdown to opening day continues.

The Warriors announced last week that the team’s first game at the new 18,000-seat arena will be a pre-season contest against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 5. It will mark the first professional basketball game played in San Francisco since January 29, 1971 when the Warriors defeated the Buffalo Braves.

The state-of-the-art facility will replace the Oracle Arena as the Warriors’ home venue. Oracle Arena is known for its atmosphere and Welts has spoken of the team’s shift in focus ahead of the move to Chase Center.

In an interview with the Forbes business news website, Welts said: “The biggest fundamental shift in how we believe we can affect the fan experience is that at Chase Center we are owning and managing every aspect of the fan experience there.

“So any experience that you have, whether you’re just attending an event in the plaza, whether you’re at a concert in the arena, whether you’re going to a Warriors game, we have complete responsibility for every aspect of that experience.

“That’s something that is a fundamental change in our organisation but also we think is the biggest opportunity to improve the experience that you have when you are a guest on our property for any activity that you’re engaging in.”

Welts said it was not the team’s goal to “replicate” what it had at Oracle Arena. Instead, Welts noted that the Warriors will “take the things that we like the most”.

Welts also discussed the construction process for the arena, which will not host NHL ice hockey matches and instead focus on NBA and music concerts. This approach, Welts says, will prove beneficial in the long run.

He said: “We wanted the best possible atmosphere and viewing experience for NBA basketball and concerts so we made the decision early on not to have this be an arena that the National Hockey League would see as a suitable home for an NHL team.

“That changes the dimensions of the floor, it changes the geometry of the building and how the seats relate to the playing surface and the concert stage and allows a smaller, more intimate building than is possible to create if you’re designing for NHL hockey. So that was the first, most important and really guiding design criteria that we went with.”

A string of music concerts have already been pencilled in for Chase Center, with the likes of Phil Collins, The Black Keys, John Mayer and Andrea Bocelli to perform at the arena later this year.

Welts said that the urban location of Chase Center will lend itself to fans staying in the vicinity of the arena on game days, and it is hoped the venue will become a year-round facility.

He added: “The idea of big open plazas surrounded by mostly restaurant retail with outdoor dining on your arrival is very different from an arena in a less urban location surrounded by a giant parking lot where everybody arrives at the same time, everybody departs at the same time because the only activity at the site is the arena itself.

“Here, our hope is that 365 days a year the site will be activated with events happening outside the arena on our plaza… and people will make the decision to go to Chase Center on any given night not even sure whether or not there will be an event happening in the arena. That type of experience will be completely different and we think will be much superior to what Warriors fans are used to experiencing.”

Image: Chase Center