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Golden State Warriors must pay off $40 million Oracle Arena debt

The Mercury News

The Golden State Warriors can’t leave for the City without paying the Town, an arbitrator ruled Monday.

When the team crosses the bay next season for its gleaming, new $1 billion arena in San Francisco, it will still be on the hook for about $40 million to retire the debt for renovation costs at its current home, Oracle Arena.

Arbitrator Rebecca Westerfield’s ruling settled an argument between the Warriors and the city of Oakland and Alameda County, which own the arena, over language in a 1996 contract.

“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 Daniel Purcell, a partner Keker, Van Nest & Peters, which represented the city and county. “We are grateful that the arbitrator saw it our way.”

The decision was a major victory for the city and county, which are still saddled with nearly $80 million in renovation costs at the Coliseum for the Raiders, for which the NFL team is not obligated to pay, even when they leave for Las Vegas.

The dispute stemmed from different interpretations of the team’s 20-year lease agreement at Oracle Arena signed in 1996, under former team owner Chris Cohan. The Warriors argued the team has no obligation to pay remaining debt for renovations to the arena once it departs for San Francisco next year, while Coliseum authority officials insisted the team must cover the costs in full.

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