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Murph: Any review of Chase Center has to come with an asterisk

© Kyle Terada | 2019 Aug 26

So, the Chase Center: Spectacular 21st-century entertainment palace, or traffic-choked monument to sterile piles of tech money?

Wait. Let me try that again, per the new verbiage rules.

So … CHASE Center: Spectacular 21st-century entertainment palace, or traffic-choked monument to sterile piles of tech money?

There’s no ‘the’ in Chase Center.

And the “Verbiage Police” thing may be the only problem with Chase Center. No need to make us drop the “the”. Or to tell us to call a concession stand an “eatery.” That all feels forced.

Outside of that? The place is pretty sweet, sports fans.*

And yes, that’s an asterisk.

Any review of Chase Center has to come with an asterisk, signifying a number of things.

— The asterisk must connote the fact that NO EVENTS HAVE BEEN HELD THERE YET. We do not know if traffic will be apocalyptic. We do not know if fans will be lulled into stupor and silence by too many creature comforts. And most important, we do not know if lines at the super-cool Hot Dog Bill’s or Bakesale Betty “eateries” will move at an acceptable clip.

— The asterisk must also connote whether or not the reviewer was a Chase-hater before the doors even opened. I understand and appreciate the love hard core Oaklanders had for the Warriors of Oracle — errr, The Arena in Oakland (1996-06); err, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena (1966-1996) — and I sort of understand how said love can prejudice one against any arena in loathed San Francisco. I say “sort of” because the disdain many 510’ers have for The City seems to cross from ‘friendly rivalry’ into ‘inexplicable levels of loathing’, something a sociologist should probably dive into.

— The asterisk must also connote whether the reviewer, like me, went in on 1/8 of a season-ticket plan at Chase Center. That investment is significant. My family may or may not be eating Top Ramen for most of 2019 based on that investment. So, a season-ticket holder may be predisposed to look past any shortcomings of Chase, to make one’s money feel well-spent. Gulp.

So, to the review.

Once again: The place is pretty sweet, sports fans.

But not without red flags.

And by ‘sweet’, I mean:

— Yes, the scoreboard is magnificent. I don’t care if Jerry Jones got there first. It’s a spectacular video board, and I’m betting it will add a level of enjoyment/information to a game experience.

— The lower bowl is large and intimate and provides dynamite sight lines. It should be an outstanding place to, you know, actually see a basketball game.

— The concession stands — errrr, eateries are a massive upgrade from Oracle. See you at Hot Dog Bill’s. And if you beat me there, I’ll wave at you from Bakesale Betty’s.

— The endless soda machines are a welcome new wrinkle.

— The ‘Modelo Club’ way up near the ceiling in the 200 level is spacious and still provides a nice bird’s-eye view of the floor, available to every ticket holder.

— The wider concourses are pleasing. It does not feel claustrophobic, and on the east side, there’s a Bay view.

And by ‘red flags’, I mean:

— There is no question the VIP Tequila Bunkers (h/t to my pal Scott Ostler) will be a huge distraction for courtside fans. The decadence and opulence afforded to the courtside seat holders — with little secret passageways to wine cellars! —gives them every reason to not even be in their seats. It will make for bad optics on TV.

In the end, the ultimate win for Chase are the same three words that have defined any real estate transaction: location, location, location.

There is no getting around this. Location is everything. And Chase Center’s spot, smack in the middle of San Francisco’s newest and most vibrant neighborhood, Mission Bay, is a gorilla dunk. It’s flat. It’s walkable. Heck, it’s scooter-able, if that’s your thing. It’s filled with new places and faces. If and when a Central Subway stop ever gets built, the transit will be something The City has always needed. They’re talking ferry docks, even, over by the new five-acre park they’re close to finishing.

Chase Center has a much better chance of being a beloved spot than Levi’s Stadium because of all these reasons. Levi’s, on the face of it, is not a bad place to watch a game. But there is zero ambiance surrounding it. Chase will have all of the surrounding buzz Levi’s does not.

Plus, no one will complain about the sun.

Will Chase be as beloved as Oracle Park — errr, AT&T Park; errrr, Pacific Bell Park? Probably not, because nothing can compare to the open-air romance of a baseball stadium. It simply provides more sensual pleasures in connection to Mother Earth.

But it’s way ahead of Levi’s and, yes, Oracle, already in terms of an urban experience.

The on-court product, of course, will be the ultimate arbiter. If the Warriors go into a Cohan-like funk in the 2020s, there’s no helping the vibe. Something tells me Joe Lacob won’t let that happen. He’ll be too busy mapping parade routes down Terry A. Francois Boulevard.

Bring on the 21st century of sports in the Bay Area. Chase is probably going to be a very worthy entry.


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