Oracle Arena, with T-shirts draping its seats, sat ready for Friday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Thursday night’s Game 6 will be the final NBA game at the 52-year-old arena. (Getty Images)
Warriors play their last game at league’s oldest arena on Thursday night
On 2,088 occasions, the Golden State Warriors have suited up inside Oakland’s Oracle Arena for an NBA regular-season or playoff game. On Thursday night, No. 2,089 will be the last time ever.
As the Warriors prepare to return to San Francisco and the new $1.4 billion Chase Center ahead of next season, the NBA Finals — one that has the Toronto Raptors taking a 3-2 lead back to Oakland for Thursday’s game — offers a high-stakes farewell to the league’s oldest venue.
It opened in 1966 as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena — a name the venue held for about 20 years — sitting next door to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of MLB’s Oakland A’s, on 132 acres with 10,000 on-site parking spaces.
The San Francisco Warriors averaged 7,727 fans a night during the 1966-67 season, although the new arena was only a partial home for a team still splitting games across multiple venues in the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Cow Palace. The Warriors even skipped playing in the venue from 1968 into 1970, but made it a near-permanent home by 1971, coinciding with changing the team name to the Golden State Warriors.
The opening of the arena, though, wasn’t for the Warriors. On Nov. 9, 1966, the arena welcomed Western Hockey League play, with the California Seals hosting the San Diego Gulls. The Seals soon became an NHL team and played in the Oakland arena for about 10 years before leaving for Cleveland.
When opened, the Oakland arena, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, held over 13,000 and was soon expanded to about 15,000. The venue’s lone major renovation, designed by HNTB, started in 1996 bumped capacity past 19,000 with the addition of 72 suites and three clubs. The renovation — which sent the Warriors to San Jose Arena for the 1996-97 NBA season — not only added 4,000 seats, but completely remolded the seating bowl and interiors while keeping the exterior and foundation of the building intact.
Attendance didn’t balloon much for the Warriors when the franchise won its first NBA championship in California in 1975 (the franchise had moved from Philadelphia in 1962), still averaging just over 8,000 fans a night during that season. While the team played games in multiple venues throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s, the 1974-75 season was played in Oakland except for the two home NBA Finals games, which were moved to the Cow Palace because of a scheduling conflict.
Wins weren’t easy to come by for the Warriors during the 1990s and into the early 2010s. In an 18-season stretch, the team had only one winning season. But the fans still came to the home arena. The team had a 310- game sellout streak from March 1989 until April 1996.
Later, the team set attendance records in 2007-08, with an average attendance 19,631 for a season total of 804,864.
With capacity at the venue now capped at 19,596, that number has served as the team’s official average attendance since the 2013-2014 season, giving the team regular-season total attendance marks each season since then of 803,436.
In a video distributed by the team, Golden State guard Quinn Cook said that “even when they weren’t winning championships, the fans always stuck out to me, even through the TV.”
“Oracle is a special place,” said forward Kevin Durant. “So many different people come to watch us with so many backgrounds all across the Bay Area.”
But things really took a turn when the team started piling up victories in 2012. The team’s sellout streak will reach 343 games on Thursday night, the fourth longest in the NBA, and the Warriors won league championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The team also played in the NBA Finals in 2016.
For 20 years, the arena kept the same name and look, but following a renovation 20 years into its history, the arena was called The Arena in Oakland for eight years and the Oakland Arena for 2005. The venue’s first naming-rights deal happened in 2006, when Oracle signed on for a 10-year agreement to name the building Oracle Arena. That deal was extended past the initial terms.
Oracle Arena, operated by AEG, now faces an uncertain future, as does the stadium next door, the only venue left that hosts both NFL and MLB teams. The NFL’s Raiders are on the move to Las Vegas and MLB’s A’s have plans to build a new stadium elsewhere in Oakland, leaving the county-owned site open for new development opportunities.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.