April 24 from Walter Slafko    The rich men who own the Golden State Warriors are trying to evade a debt the team incurred when they leased the Alameda County Coliseum. A story by Mattew Artz of the Oakland Tribune tells it like it is: 

Representatives of the board that runs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex said attorneys for the Warriors have informed them that the team will stop paying down the debt on the Oracle Arena after it decamps for San Francisco, even though it appears that a clause in their lease requires them to keep making payments.

Oakland and Alameda County jointly own the arena and issued $140 million in bonds nearly 20 years ago for upgrades to keep the Warriors in town.

The Warriors have been paying up to $7.4 million a year to cover debt service payments, but under the team’s lease those payments do not end just because the team leaves town.

The lease states that if the Warriors leave before June 30, 2027, the team has to pay any debt service that is not covered by the arena’s net operating revenue as long as the arena remains open for business.

The Warriors would not say why they considered themselves unbound by the lease clause. 

When the Warriors lease at the Coliseum expires after the 2016-17 season,  they will presumably need  an extension. East Bay politicians will have an opportunity to demand that the owners —members in good standing of the One Percent— meet the obligation they incurred when they bought the team.  Artz informs us that the 99 percent have an advocate in this matter:

Oakland School Board member Chris Dobbins, who also sits on the Coliseum board, said he hoped public pressure would force the Warriors to reconsider and avoid a legal fight. “If the Warriors are going to double their franchise value and make all this money by moving to San Francisco, to screw the taxpayers of Oakland and Alameda County is ludicrous,” he said.

“Joe Lacob Court”

 For two years after vulture capitalist Joe Lacob and his Hollywood partner who dated Barbara Streisand bought the Warriors, the city of Alameda has been providing free advertising to the Warriors, the Bank of America, and to Joe Lacob himself.  In exchange for whatever it cost to install two baskets and repave and paint the playground at Haight Elementary School —a public school!— those parties got a billboard-size sign. The rich man’s name and the corporate logos could not have been better located to create favorable associations among the little scholars —the playground wall! Drivers on busy Lincoln Boulevard got the message repeatedly that Mr. Lacob and the Warriors and good old B of A support our kids. In exchange for this inestimably valuable p.r., Mr. Lacob had to put up…  some free tickets for Alameda politicians!

The egotistical Lacob took the microphone during half-time at a Warriors game at the start of last season when Chris Mullins’ jersey was being retired.  Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond had already said a few words, the mood was celebratory and nostalgic. Lacob began, “Today is about commemoration… ” and the boos cascaded down. It was an outpouring of disgust for the incompetence of Warriors management all these years, personified by Mr. Priss in the spotlight.

The booing got louder then softer then louder. It was not coming from courtside seats but from middle- and working-class Warrior fans in the middle- and upper tiers —people who go in on two season tickets with a bunch of friends. They were telling the boss how they felt about the bonehead decisions he and his predecessors had made all these years while they could only bitch and fantasize impotently to the Razor and Mr. T.

The collective expression of disapproval would not stop until Chris Mullin took the mike from the hapless owner and asked the crowd to hear Lacob out. The boss resumed: “Well, now that that’s over with—” which of course incited a renewed wave of boos. It crescendoed until Rick Barry, the star of the last Warriors’ last championship team, strode across the floor and took the mike from Lacob. Barry scolded the fans for being “classless” and said they should be grateful that this man was spending his money to improve their team.

Rick surely felt the class thing in the air, too.

The Doobie Section

 When the Warriors were NBA champs in 1975, marijuana smoking was de facto legal on one of the Coliseum ramps. The security guards literally looked the other way, enjoying a contact high while maintaining inscrutable expressions. Cigarette smoking in public was still the norm, and perhaps marijuana smoking was no big deal to Franklin Mieuli, the owner back then. Friends used to say, “Meet you at the doobie section during halftime.” It was a mellow, racially integrated scene —hundreds of people hanging out on a zig-zagging ramp talking about Phil Smith and Clifford Ray…

 Any info from readers about when and how the crackdown on the doobie section took place— or memories of the scene— would be much appreciated by O’Shaughnessy’s. Confidentiality guaranteed if requested. Maybe the Warriors have been jinxed all these years by bad Prohibitionist karma. The owners’ current attempt to transfer their debt to the taxpayers will not help, karma-wise. 

PS As for Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco welcoming the Warriors “home…” Ever hear of Philadelphia?