Warriors president Rick Welts was in New York to accept the Sports Business Awards honor for Sports Team of the Year on Wednesday and beforehand spoke about Warriors fans as they relate to business.
Asked by CNBC about the wealth in the Bay Area and if that has shifted the kind of people that want to buy tickets and attend games, Welts said it hasn’t yet.
“I think there’s greater interest because of the winning, but I think the fan base has remained remarkably the same,” Welts said. “I think we have an incredibly diverse fan base. We cut off our season ticket sales at 14,500 three years ago, and really it’s those same 14,500 people that have been there ever since. We’re renewing at 98, 95 percent, so we’re not bringing a lot of those new people you’re talking about into the fold yet. But hopefully we’re designing a stadium that will take advantage of that wealth.”
Chase Center, which is scheduled to open in San Francisco for the 2019-20 season if the team can clear legal challenges, will cost “a billion and a half dollars” in privately-funded money for the project, according to Welts.
Season ticket renewal rates surpassed 90 percent for a fourth straight season at Oracle Arena in Oakland, and those holders will have priority for Chase Center when the prices of tickets are expected to rise.
The season ticket holder wait list, meanwhile, has grown to over 28,000 members, according to the Warriors. They paid non-refundable deposits to join and will have priority over the general public for Chase Center.
Asked about the economy, Welts said, “We are living in a very unusual environment in the Bay Area right now. The whole Bay Area is on fire in a good way. It’s the center of innovation of the world. The economy is roaring. There is very little that we have to complain about right now.”
Asked about issues about California’s economy and how they could affect how the Warriors plan, budget and strategize, Welts said affordability is becoming “a front burner issue in the Bay Area.”
“The cost of housing is really not where it needs to be for everyday people who have regular jobs to be able to afford to live there,” he said. “Now some of that’s going to accrue to the benefit of Oakland and some of the surrounding areas, but it’s a real problem we have to address.”