As play continues in the National Basketball Association’s Disney World bubble, the Golden State Warriors ownership lost a big contest in the arena game. The Golden State Warriors’ ownership will have to pay off an estimated $49 million worth of bonds that were sold to finance for the 1996 renovation of the Warriors’ former home in Oakland. Alameda County and Oakland wanted the money but the present Warriors’ ownership didn’t think the debt was its responsibility and the ownership group went looking for a court to back them up. A California state appellate court earlier this week said the buzzer sounded and the ownership was on the hook for the money owed. The Warriors ownership claimed when the Oakland arena lease was completed ownership could just walk away from the debt. Warriors ownership was batting with a two-strike count in this court appearance. An arbitrator said no. A San Francisco Superior Court judge said no.
In 1996, Chris Cohan who owned the Warriors franchise, understood the renovation agreement’s terms after all he signed the document that called for the renovations. When he sold the Warriors to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, his lawyers told the pair about the debt obligation. Warriors’ lawyers claimed that the new ownership didn’t terminate the deal. They failed to exercise their option to renew it. An arbitrator and a judge have both rejected the argument. In 2019, Warriors’ owners walked away from the Oakland building because didn’t generate the massive revenues they wanted. Warriors’ ownership celebrated its Oakland stay by hoisting a banner saluting the Oakland arena. That banner now hangs in the new San Francisco Warriors building. Oakland has an empty building problem. Arena acts will follow the money and go to the Warriors’ building bypassing Oakland. The state appellate court decision was good news for Oakland which is struggling financial because of the COVID-19 pandemic.