Oakland – The California First Appellate District Court of Appeal has upheld both an initial arbitration decision and the lower court’s decision that the Golden State Warriors cannot escape the debt they owe the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) for renovations to the Oakland-Alameda County Arena, debt the Warriors agreed to pay over 20 years ago.
As is typical to finance large projects, the County and the City issued bonds worth over $140 million to pay for the new sports arena. They did so in reliance on and assuming the good faith of the Warriors, who agreed to help repay that debt over decades. When the Warriors chose to leave Oakland several years ago, they also attempted to leave their unpaid debt behind. The Court of Appeal flatly rejected the Warriors’ narrow and unconvincing interpretation of their commitment to Oakland and Alameda County and ordered them to fulfill the terms of the agreement.
“The residents of Oakland and Alameda County have been unwavering fans of the Golden State Warriors for over 50 years,” said Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Henry Gardner. “Not only did we have a legally binding agreement, we were partners, working together on producing and keeping a first class exciting basketball team in our community. The community did so with passion and commitment and at great public expense. To simply wave goodbye and leave outstanding debt in excess of $48 million is egregious. The City, County, and Joint Powers Authority said you are obligated to pay. The Court of Appeal agreed.”
The Warriors’ effort to withdraw from their agreement without fulfilling it required the City and County, as the principal members of the JPA, to engage in years of arbitration and litigation, costing over $1 million over time. Despite evidence of a shared agreement and shared understanding starting as far back as 1996, the Warriors nonetheless required the local governments to spend significant time and money over many years to keep the terms of the agreement in place. This decision should bring tens of millions of dollars to the City, County, and JPA, including the unpaid debt and legal costs and fees.
“This victory provides justice for the people of Oakland,” said City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “The Warriors got the benefit of the bargain they made more than 20 years ago, and yet pursued specious claims to avoid their obligations. We are pleased that every court that reviewed this case agreed that the Warriors must honor their debt, stop stiffing their fans, and pay costs and fees that we incurred.”
The Court of Appeal decision can be found here.
Post based on a press release from the Oakland City Attorney to Zennie62Media.