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The Gentrification of Oracle Arena

How the exponential growth of ticket prices are pricing out some of DubNation's most loyal fans.

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The topic of gentrification is discussed in the Bay Area as much as the Warriors themselves these days. Displacement of poor communities by wealthy outsiders generally carries a negative connotation. But in the case of low to middle class Golden State Warriors' fans, the gentrification of Oracle Arena is a swirling yin-yang of both good and evil.

Good in the sense that the Warriors are obliterating every team and record that boldly stands in their path; but with this good comes an underbelly of evil. Everybody wants a piece of the Warriors now that they are successful. This demand is driving up ticket prices and pricing out the average family looking for a great time out at Oracle.


The first time I ever personally bought tickets to a Warriors' game was during the 2009-2010 season. I remember seeing an online deal that offered a three game lower bowl package for two for $150, which came out to $25 a ticket. I was only 18 and Golden State was pretty bad that year, however they did have a promising rookie in Steph Curry, so I pulled the trigger.

It was also the first time I ever got the chance to treat my dad to a game, rather than the other way around. We saw the Suns' Amare Stoudemire absolutely destroy Anthony Tolliver, a moment that remains vivid in my memory. I witnessed Dallas Mavericks' rookie Rodrigue Beaubois drop in nine three's in another game and even caught a rare win when the Warriors took down a young Oklahoma City Thunder squad led by Kevin Durant.

These are memories I hold close to my heart and will forever cherish. But for those who are in the same stage of life today that I was in then might not have that same opportunity to create such memories of their own.

In 2010 a beer cost $7.50 and parking was a manageable $15 for Golden State home games, according to Jump forward five years with the Warriors fresh of their first NBA title in the Bay Area since 1975. Parking for the 2015-2016 season is now $40 and two beers at the last game I attended in November cost $26. That is about the price of four bottles of Pliny just in case you were wondering.

As for the tickets, you might want to grab your chum bucket because these prices might just make your stomach churn. According to ticket marketplace, the Golden State Warriors have the most expensive median ticket price this season at $238. Two hundred thirty-eight dollars per game. The only team that is even remotely close to having tickets as expensive as the Warriors are the Lakers, who have seen a spike in prices since Kobe Bryant announced his farewell tour.

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The Warriors play in 13 of the 25 most expensive match-ups this season, including seven of the top 10 most expensive games. The Christmas day matchup between Golden State and Cleveland is the fourth most expensive ticket in the NBA this season with an average price of $400. But it will cost you only $202 to just get inside the door to watch the self proclaimed greatest player in the world make his return to Oracle.

The most expensive game in the 2015-2016 NBA season is Kobe's last home game of his career. The median price to see this game live is a staggering $1,249 per ticket. But if you enjoy watching a 40 year-old huck up air-balls while making the "I've been making that shot since before you were born" face, I would suggest attending a Sunday morning open gym at Koret Rec Center to get more bang out of your buck.

The Warriors most expensive game is the last home game of the season against the Grizzlies, with an average ticket price of $499.

Only 13 teams in the NBA this season have an average ticket price of $100 or more, while nine teams have median ticket prices of $70 and lower. You can buy five tickets to a Pistons game for the price of one ticket to watch the Warriors play. Hell, you can buy a round trip flight to Detroit, hotel accommodation and two tickets to a Pistons' game for the price of one ticket to watch a game inside Oracle.

Are these ticket prices justifiable? Who is to blame? With those prices you'd think that you were paying to watch one of the greatest teams in NBA history play.. oh right, that is exactly what you are paying to see. Many are willing to pay that price, but only so many can truly afford it.

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Techies are pricing out low to middle income families all over the Bay, and they are now creeping into the Mecca of Bay Area hoops. The demand to watch the greatest show on hardwood in person is skyrocketing and with the abundance of wealth available in the Bay Area, the astronomical increase in ticket prices is not hard to understand.

The Niners catered to the rich by building a billion dollar stadium in the Skrillacon Valley without much regard to the faithful San Francisco mainstays. It looks like the Warriors are now next in line.

Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber are privately financing over a billion dollars of their own money to build a state of the art entertainment complex in downtown San Francisco. If Warriors' tickets are over 100 percent more expensive than the team they played in the NBA Finals last season, what the hell is going to happen to prices once the team moves into their shiny new arena across the Bay?

It's unfair to say that Warriors' ownership doesn't have the fans best interests in mind, especially when they are willing to spend so much of their own money to build what might possibly be the best stadium in all of professional sports. Joe Lacob mentioned before that he worries about losing the vibe in the new arena that is so unique to Oracle. Lacob should be worried. As David Aldridge writes, times are changing for the Warriors fan base.

"Here is what you see at Oracle, which you do not see in many arenas around the NBA today: real diversity. You see Asians and Latinos in the stands, and black people with gray hair, people who have stuck by this team when there was no good reason to do so. They are ushers and security guards -- and, they are season ticket holders..."

"But there is also apprehension that runs through Oracle. The people sitting courtside -- among them, many of the biggest movers and shakers of Silicon Valley -- likely won't have any problems getting seated and sated in the new place. But what about the fans in the 200-level seats, in the corners, who've been there through all the bad times and now, finally, have a great team for which to root?"

"That momentum highlights an economic reality: new things cost more than old things. No one believes ticket prices in San Francisco will be the same as they are in Oakland. And while it is true that most fans never set foot in a stadium or arena, and watch their favorite teams on TV (or, today, their computers), the visceral experience of actually being there in the arena creates memories that can last a lifetime, and be passed down from parent to child."

Aldridge hits the nail right on the head. The one downside to success is that everyone wants a slice of the pie. But with only so many slices available, the price per slice is forced to increase. Which is a shame because experiencing a game at Oracle Arena, even just purely as a fan of basketball and not the Warriors, will leave you with goosebumps for years to come.

I am surprising my dad with Dub's tickets for his birthday later this month, It is the first game we are going to see together since 2010. Luckily I purchased the tickets before the season and got what is now a great deal on fantastic seats through a season ticket holder. With that being said, I still forked over about $425 for the pair of tickets. The closest tickets I could find on StubHub to our seats are going for about $500 each, which is cringeworthy to say the least.

It may be time to invest in a new television and a comfortable couch. Because watching the games from home may be the only feasible option for the majority of DubNation to watch the Warriors play.


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