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Chase Center to ‘bridge gap’ between sports and entertainment arena

The Golden State Warriors will reach the end of a seven-year journey today (Friday) when the NBA basketball franchise’s new home, Chase Center, stages its first major event.

With confirmation that the team would swap Oakland’s Oracle Arena for a new facility in San Francisco having been announced back in May 2012, US rock giants Metallica will tonight christen Chase Center by reuniting with the San Francisco Symphony to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Grammy Award-winning S&M album.

A series of concerts and other events will follow before the Warriors play their first pre-season game at the venue against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 5. MANICA Architecture, masterplan designer and lead design architect for the arena and the entire site, believe Chase Center will raise the bar for arena development worldwide.

“The design of the Chase Center is bespoke to its location in San Francisco,” David Manica, president of MANICA Architecture, told TheStadiumBusiness.com. “It is dynamic, intense, luxurious yet comfortable, welcoming, and very personal.

“It has a spirit that is a reflection of the team and its future, as well as the city in which it has been conceived. It establishes a new benchmark for spectator guest experience, comfort, and refinement. Unlike any other arena built to date, it bridges the gap between sport arena and performing arts theatre.”

The multi-purpose ethos lies at the heart of the vision for Chase Center, with the Warriors stating that the new arena will complete its transition from a basketball team to a sports and entertainment company.

Oracle Arena served as home since 1971, but the new 18,064 capacity arena, privately financed in Mission Bay, San Francisco at a cost of $1.4bn (£1.15bn/€1.27bn), is designed to take the Warriors to the next level as a business entity.

Ground breaking at the site, around one-and-a-half miles south of its originally intended location, took place in January 2017. MANICA was joined in the design team by Kendall Heaton Architects, as architect of record for the entire site, and Gensler, which bore responsibility for retail and arena interiors.

In terms of how Chase Center plans to deliver on the sport and entertainment goal, Will Hon, director at MANICA Architecture, said: “Our primary design consideration was to design the most intimate, lively and exciting modern basketball arena in the world that also doubles as a second-to-none concert and entertainment venue.

“We also focused on fine-tuning every operational consideration so as to ensure it was the easiest and most efficient arena to manage and operate. But the fact is that the arena is only one part of a much larger commercial, retail, and entertainment district.

“From the very start, the Warriors had an ambitious vision for the urban four block development that required us to approach the masterplan like a 3D design challenge. Careful planning and puzzle-like placement of the various programme elements allowed us to fit everything on the site.

“In the end, the concept works so harmoniously, that it’s impossible to imagine one building element on the site without the others. The entire development works together as one unified experience.”

However, Chase Center will only be one part of a wider fan experience at the Mission Bay site. The arena serves to anchor Thrive City, a multi-purpose, privately financed complex consisting of 3.2 acres of publicly accessible plazas and open space that is part of a larger mixed-use development including two office buildings and dozens of unique restaurant and retail locations.

Thrive City has been designed as a community gathering space, providing a raft of year-round health and wellness programmes, including Get Fit clinics, yoga sessions, farmer’s markets and ice skating.

Concerning the arena fan experience, Manica said: “Chase Center took a very different approach to its accommodation of various fan types, and offers a truly unparalleled variety and mix of amenities and options for every guest.

“The building boasts nine separate Clubs, Traditional Mid-Level Suites, Courtside Lounges, Theater Boxes and upwards of 127,000 square feet of premium space. The premium areas vary in exclusivity – from JP Morgan, the most private club reserved for floor seat holders, to the Modelo Cantina, which is accessible to everyone in the arena. In the end, something new and amazing is provided for everyone.”

With the new arena located in the tech heartland of California, the state-of-the-art offerings at Chase Center are hardly a surprise.

“Chase Center offers the largest centre-hung scoreboard in the NBA,” Hon said. “With a total active image surface area of 10,300 square feet, it is 58% larger than the next largest centre hung in the NBA. In fact, the underbelly displays, arranged specifically for viewing from the floor seats below, are as large as the primary video displays at Madison Square Garden. And, the entire display is so tall it must be hoisted in two separate sections that nest into one another – allowing it to fully retract into the roof structure.

“Spectator connectivity and network reliability was at the forefront of consideration, with 20GB of bandwidth available per person and a DAS room with the same capacity as (Minneapolis’) U.S. Bank Stadium, which has a seating capacity nearly four times that of the arena.

“It is also one of the first arenas to implement 5G mmWave (millimetre wave) in the seating bowl that will support the ultimate bandwidth in upcoming mobile devices.”

Any major arena or stadium development comes complete with its own set of challenges and problems, and Chase Center, arguably 2019’s biggest arena opening, was no different. However, Manica explains that the company was able to turn the project’s key challenge into an opportunity.

He said: “The biggest challenge for the project was the ownership’s desire to have a project with no ‘back door’.  Sport arenas have massive operational and service requirements, and as such they are typically designed with one public-facing side opposite a large back-of-house truck service yard.

“Given the size and value of the urban site in San Francisco, with Bay front views, we simply could not take such a traditional and uncreative approach to this usual challenge. In the Chase Center, all of the arena services and parking for the project are located under the buildings and the outdoor plazas.

“In the end, this is the approach that allowed us to create two amazing outdoor plaza areas at each main arena entrance, 360-degree front facing facades around the entire project, and nearly 3.2 acres of public open space around the entire development.”

So, the Warriors are set for their move from the basketball-focused Oracle Arena to a facility that president and chief operating officer Rick Welts this week said has delivered on the vision of creating one of the “must-see destinations” in the world from both a sports and entertainment perspective. All that remains is for the Warriors fans, and wider San Francisco public, to deliver their verdict.

Images: Jason O’Rear/Chase Center