The Joe Lacob-owned Golden State Warriors could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and embarrassment that was given to the organization this week when an arbitrator ruled the were responsible for $40 million in outstanding bond payments, had they listened to then-Oakland City Attorney John Russo in 2010.
Prior to Mr. Lacob acquiring the Warriors, I asked Russo, who’s now Irvine, California City Manager, about what the Warriors would owe if they did move to San Francisco. The possibility that a new owner would take the team out of Oakland was on the minds of many Oaklanders as soon as then-Warriors Owner Chris Cohan put the team up for sale.
In my interview, which you can see below, Russo addressed the Warriors to SF subject at the 8:21 mark, saying “There’s been a lot of speculation about someone buying the Warriors moving to San Francisco, but if someone were to do that, they would be in a position of having to pay off the rest of the bonds that we floated in order to rehab the Arena.”
That was a fact I tried to communicate to Warriors Public Relations Rep Raymond Riddler in 2014, but Riddler believed I was wrong for no concrete legal reason and only because that was what his boss Joe Lacob believed – and at that took a kind of mocking tone about the whole matter.
Now, in 2018, the Warriors have to pay $40 million to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority. Something Russo noted in a comment on Facebook that ignited this post, reminding me of our talk, and writing that the decision was “an easy call for the arbitrator”:
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