After this season the Golden State Warriors will be hanging up their championship banners in new rafters, following a planned move from Oakland's Oracle Arena to San Francisco. However, despite the change of scenery, an arbitrator has ruled that they'll still be on the hook for debt they racked up on renovations, as per a lease agreement they signed in 1996.
The Mercury News' David DeBolt reported that the organization thought they could avoid paying after leaving the arena, which was contested by the city and county. On Monday, arbitrator Rebecca Westerfield sided with Oakland by stating the team had to pony up the $40 million they owe, even after the team moves. The Warriors had been paying $7.5 million per year, with their $150 million renovations set to be completed over the course of three decades. Now they'll actually have to honor their agreement rather than dump off the obligation to the taxpayers.
"This was an after-the-fact attempt by the Warriors to rewrite the parties' deal, and it would have left the people of Oakland and Alameda County holding the bag," said a partner of the law firm representing the city. "We are grateful that the arbitrator saw it our way (...) It was yet another example of a very rich party trying to offload its debts on the public."
After the Warriors leave, the arena will no longer have a long-term tenant (obviously) but DeBolt adds that it will still be used to host concerts and events. Anyway, consider it a very small victory for local residents. Taxpayers: 1, Major Sports Leagues: I don't know, like 1000.