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Time’s running out for the NBA’s oldest host

Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena being built in 1966. Photo via the San Jose Mercury News.

Tonight’s Game 4 will be the last or second-to-last NBA game at Oracle Arena. It originally opened as Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena in 1966; it’s name change came in 1996.

By most accounts, it’s a dump, but a dump in the same way the first Boston Garden was a dump. Before douchebag hedge fund owners were sitting courtside and shoving opposing players in the NBA Finals, Oracle spent many decades housing a losing team with loyal fans. Even in 2006, during a 12th-straight losing season, the Warriors finished 10th in average attendance.

Oracle’s also the oldest current NBA arena. Madison Square Garden, opened in 1968, is second. Every other arena was built in 1990 or later.

(Very true. A cool $813 will get you one nose bleed ticket tonight.) Oracle’s resurgence as a venue with a national presence has been something to watch, though. If the Warriors fled for their sparkly new Chase Center in downtown San Francisco seven years ago, before this team took off, it would have been vacated without much of the nation-wide romanticism it has now.

As Bryan Curtis pointed out in a memorable piece from 2016, on the explosion of media around the league’s current super-team, Oracle spent many years being decidedly unsexy:

“That any reporter would be trying to get into the Warriors locker room is a great, historic irony. For years, the beat was the lowliest pro beat in the Bay Area outside of maybe the San Jose Sharks. The Warriors’ 12 straight losing seasons (1994 to 2006) meant that their press corps only rarely minted a national star like Ric Bucher. A columnist with an interest in basketball, like the Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami, might drop by. But, otherwise, Kawakami said, "there were a bunch of mediocre players walking around and maybe two or three reporters."

Oracle’s always meant something to the people of Oakland, though. Ask Damian Lillard. Ask Marshawn Lynch (“We’re losing the Warriors,” summated Marshawn Lynch at an Oakland City Council meeting in December. “We’re losing the Raiders. Best not lose the A’s.”)   

The PR people will point out the Warriors are staying in the Bay; anyone with a conscience and a bullshit detector can tell they’re leaving their lower- and middle-class roots. 

But, hey, YouTube is a hell-of-a-thing.


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