Golden State Warriors ordered to pay former arena debt

Golden State Warriors have been ordered to pay off debts relating to redevelopment work at their former home, Oakland Arena.

A San Francisco appeals court ruled this week that the National Basketball Arena (NBA) team – which relocated to the Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019 – is still responsible for costs associated with a $150m project undertaken in 1996, the year the Warriors moved to the then Oracle Arena.

The First District Appellate Court confirmed previous judgements made by an arbitrator and lower court judge concerning the legal dispute between the Warriors and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. The legal dispute began in 2018 over different interpretations of the team’s 20-year lease agreement at Oracle Arena signed in 1996.

As part of the lease contract, the Warriors paid $7.5m a year toward the debt. However, the organisation argued it had no obligation to make annual payments once they left for San Francisco for the 2019-2020 season. The Coliseum authority board argued the agreement made it clear Warriors must cover the costs in full up to 2027 no matter where they play.

Key to the First District’s decision was the meaning behind the word “terminates” in a licence agreement executed in 1996 between the Warriors and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, the agency that runs Oracle Arena. It provides that the Warriors would continue paying down the debt until 2027 if it terminated the agreement.

A Warriors spokesperson said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the court of appeals decision but, as we’ve always said, we will fulfil our debt obligation.”

According to the Mercury News, Henry Gardner, the executive director of the stadium authority, said the arena’s debt is approximately $49m.

Image: May Wong / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)/Edited for size