Libby Schaaf, who just began her second term as mayor of Oakland, Calif., calls herself a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan. For her, the loss of the team is more than an economic loss for Oakland.
“It’s emotional,” she said.
After 53 years, the Warriors are moving to the new Chase Center stadium complex in San Francisco from Oracle Arena in Oakland at the beginning of the 2019-20 NBA season.
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From a fan perspective, Schaaf may be mourning. But the politician in her knows enough to put a positive spin on the Warriors departure.
“The team may be playing their games over there, but they’ll still be playing in this community,” she said, referring to a commitment from the Warriors organization to keep a footprint in Oakland.
When pressed about the economic impact of losing the Warriors, Schaaf remained positive.
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“They have always been the team of the Bay Area and will always be the team of the Bay Area,” she said, referencing the metropolitan area that includes both San Francisco and Oakland.
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Oracle, the oldest arena in the NBA, has hosted the finals for the last five years. The Warriors have triumphed there four times, raising championship banners to the concrete rafters that are the defining characteristic of the stadium.
It is hallowed ground for Warriors fans, not unlike Toronto’s revered Maple Leaf Gardens where once upon a time the Toronto Maple Leafs hoisted cup after cup after cup.
In Toronto, the Gardens has new life as part-University sports complex and part-supermarket. However, Oracle Arena’s future is less certain. It will remain open for concerts, but with both the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and MLB’s Oakland A’s looking to decamp from Alameda Stadium next door the entire industrial area may soon be redeveloped.
Schaaf said she is counting down the remaining games at Oracle, hoping the series comes back to Oakland again for Game 6, and more importantly for her that the Warriors can win again.
For an interview with Global News, Schaaf slipped on three chunky championship rings, gold and diamonds glinting in the Oakland sunshine. The personalized rings were given to the mayor by the Warriors organization to mark their recent wins.
“This finger is lonely” she said, wiggling her pinky.
The Toronto Raptors are looking to keep it that way.