Chase Center revamps SF sports culture



By Dylan Lazaga, CONTRIBUTOR

Ever since the new Chase Center in San Francisco had its grand opening with rock band Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony, it feels like the Golden State Warriors are wrestling with other acts for best performance.
Before the Warriors’ first preseason game on Oct. 5, Chase Center hosted two professional wrestling events for the first time ever on Sept. 23 and 24. World Wrestling Entertainment aired live episodes for their television shows Monday Night RAW and the final Tuesday-night Smackdown LIVE!, which were the first major WWE events held in San Francisco since 2004.
Both events set their sights on not just hard-hitting action, but also advancing current storylines ahead of both Smackdown’s FOX premiere on Oct. 4 and the “Hell in a Cell” pay-per-view event on Oct. 6.
The Sept. 23 RAW included home-state wrestler Rey Mysterio defeat four other wrestlers to earn a Universal Heavyweight Championship match against the champion Seth Rollins on the next episode. Fans in attendance also got to see Bay Area natives Sasha Banks and Bayley, both whom respectively grew up in the Bay Area, team up in an untelevised tag team match against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch.
Smackdown featured fan-favorite Daniel Bryan defeated Erick Rowan by disqualification, after which he and Roman Reigns fought off Rowan and his tag team partner Luke Harper. While Smackdown did not feature as many highlights as RAW, the final Tuesday Night Smackdown nailed its main purpose of stacking the FOX premiere with blockbuster matches and announcements.
While not a sellout, the fans brought the energy to both shows. The investment in many of the matches and segments on both nights were on full display, as fans reacted accordingly to everything happening in the arena. The WWE certainly entertained those in attendance the two nights Chase Center hosted them.
Among those in the crowd were Warriors players Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole on RAW, while some San Francisco 49ers players were on Smackdown LIVE!, including quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and tight end George Kittle.
As for the arena itself, Chase Center was better than imagined. Everything in and out of the arena was made out of pure love. From the Stephen Curry popcorn mural to the scenic view inside the arena overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Warriors have made the arena visually pleasing inside and out.
Another standout feature of the arena is the outdoor jumbotron outside the west entrance, which also features Thrive City. The area, which is still in construction, will feature a wide variety of restaurants and will also make a great location for watch parties for Warriors’ playoff games.
As with everything in life, a new arena comes with learning curves. It is so easy to get mesmerized in the new “Warriors Ground” that people can literally walk in circles to the seat they are trying to get to. Even the employees were having difficulty directing people around the Chase Center.
Although the Warriors possess the largest scoreboard out of all the NBA arenas, not all events at Chase Center will have the benefit of being able to look at such scoreboard because it will sometimes be retracted up on the roof. In the case of both WWE events, fans behind the stage had difficulty seeing backstage segments or any screen-related content because the scoreboard was not present
Transportation issues will also likely vary when the Warriors’ regular season begins. There are currently a variety of transportation options to and from the arena. The most popular one at the moment is MUNI, which provides event-goers free train rides to and from Chase Center. However, alternatives, such as Uber or the future ferry line, are in consideration when Warriors’ games or other events concur with San Francisco Giants’ baseball games. Driving is also an option, but depending on the day and time, people must be aware of the high traffic in the Bay Area.
The Chase Center may not be like Oracle Arena, nor will it ever will be. But with the modern arena additions and WWE proving its value, the Golden State Warriors can bring surely create new memories for their new arena when the regular season begins.