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Study shows Warriors have huge home court advantage

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Warriors new arena will bring in money, but will the “Roaracle” vibe travel across the bay?

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a sports cliche that is almost as ubiquitous as the inane post game question that precedes it: “we have the best fans in the league.” Pick your sport - from football, to baseball, to basketball - and you can find a clip of a sweaty star player toweling themselves off and heaping praise on their fans.

For fans of the Golden State Warriors it has long been a point of pride that perhaps we really are the best fan base. And maybe we are. Adding fuel to an already blazing fire, a recent research paper is further emboldening our already cocky fan base by finding Oracle Arena as one of the best home court advantages in America.

Michael Lopez, a statistics professor turned NFL Director of Analytics and Data just published a fascinating batch of research called “Lessons hidden in sports betting markets.” The core premise immediately perks my basketball nerd glasses up to full alert, they want to understand what affects basketball outcomes. And they’re looking to sports betting data in order to develop a statistically significant “unified approach to understanding randomness in North American sport.”

It’s the Einstein Theory of everything, but for North American Sports!

Who has the best homecourt advantage?

Anyways, the nerds did their nerd math, and as it turns out, the NBA has the strongest overall impact of home court advantage compared to the other major leagues for some reason. So not only is home court advantage more important in the NBA, it is yet another aspect that the Warriors excel at.

No, the Warriors don’t hold the top spot in this regard - that honor belongs to the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets; two teams that play higher than Hunter S. Thompson on his way to Vegas. With the thinner air that comes with that altitude, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the “Mile High City” Denver Nuggets have the top spot. There are plenty of well-established impacts from operating the human body at high elevations. So it seems real, probably because basketball is such a grueling combination of cardio work and fast twitch explosive muscle movement.

And their fans, are ok enough I guess.

So what makes Oracle so magical, and can we take that to San Francisco?

Sadly, the research paper only mentions the Warriors twice - both just labels in charts. So it is left to us to wonder why we have such a strong advantage. It could just be that the Warriors are really good. So good in fact that they are gumming up the model? Maybe.

But what if it’s the fans? That famous Roaracle atmosphere where the crowd “oohs” and “ahs” at every chance we get and is always waiting to explode is special. Every player says their fans are the best, but Oracle Arena clearly has one of the most legitimate claims to that title- which begs the question: will this atmosphere travel with the team when they move across the bay after this upcoming season?

Friend of the bog, Patrick Murray just wrote up a comprehensive summary of what the new arena is going to bring in (spoiler alert: it’s “a lot”). At it’s core, never forget that the shiny new stadium is a real estate deal. That’s going to be the primary return on investment for the investment group.

At this point, it’s not possible to estimate just how lucrative that will be. But an instructive example is perhaps the Brooklyn Nets whose revenue jumped from $84m to $190m when they moved to the Barclays Center. They are currently the sixth most valuable NBA franchise, with a revenue of $273m, despite finishing 20-62 in the 16/17 season. What’s more, Forbes found that:

“The Nets basketball team posted a sizable financial loss but turned a profit if you include revenue from the Barclays Center and non-NBA events at the Brooklyn arena, which both funnel into the pockets of Prokhorov.”

But something really struck me about that article: do the Warriors even need to remain elite? The seat licenses will bring in about $300 million or so on top of another $300 coming in from the stadium naming rights, but those are both one time payments (or close enough for this discussion) — they’ll still need cash flow for operating expenses, salaries, and whatnot. The timing could not be better, with payroll (assuming they bring all the main players back) expected to easily top $300 million — nearly triple the estimated salary cap.

Golden State Warriors Victory Parade
Will Steph Curry have to implore fans in SF to be as energetic as Oracle? Only time will tell.

But Warriors fans are going to come out, right?

Right?

I think that the fan base will travel well. There’s just too many of us who are loud and boisterous and have trudged through darker eras. Yes, the bright lights of the city (and associated costs) are going to probably change the feel of a Warriors game a little bit, but that’s still going to be our team, and that arena is still going to be filled their fans.

The team will have their money, the players should get paid - but us fans need the rabidly loud fan base to make it to these games. Here’s hoping that all this money getting tossed around doesn’t bury one of the best home courts in the league.