The Golden State Warriors’ new Chase Center will be much more than a home court for a basketball team. There will be concerts inside the building, of course, and there could be movie nights and game viewing parties on the big screen outside. There will be office buildings, shops, and restaurants.
Local chefs only, please.
“No Chili’s,” Warriors president Rick Welts said.
The Warriors committed $2 billion to the project, all privately financed, in part for the chance to reap profits that support their ability to keep a championship team together for as long as they like. The NBA has a luxury tax, and the Warriors will pay $86 million in taxes for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, according to Spotrac.
The Warriors have won three NBA championships in the last four seasons and they could win another this spring. As their payroll rises — and All-Stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are free agents this summer — so too does the Warriors’ tax bill.
“It gets harder and harder from a competitive perspective,” Welts said. “But the good news for us is that our ownership, as long as we have that opportunity to go for the championship, is going to go for the championship.”
Baseball has a luxury tax too, and the Dodgers paid $150 million in taxes from 2013-17. They have cut payroll since then, even while getting tantalizingly close to a World Series championship.
So we asked Peter Guber, a co-owner of the Warriors and Dodgers, why his championship team pays the luxury tax and the other does not.
“The Dodgers are paying a fortune. There’s a huge investment in players, over a long period of time. They’re not opening a new building,” he said outside the Chase Center. “We have different imperatives here than we have in Los Angeles.
“They’re doing the right thing in Los Angeles to manage resources creatively, with an end toward being competitive and successful. God has to take care of the rest.”
Guber saluted the work of Stan Kasten, the team president, and Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations. While the Dodgers and Lakers long have been established atop the Los Angeles sports scene, the Warriors only recently toppled the San Francisco Giants and 49ers in the Bay Area. The Giants, remember, won World Series championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“Different places and different times have different resources,” Guber said. “Our resourcefulness that Stan and the group exhibit in Los Angeles is relevant to a team that’s been there since 1958. This team [the Warriors] has been here 15 seconds. We have a different imperative.”
The Dodgers did not seriously bid for Bryce Harper, the best player on the free-agent market last winter, despite selling a league-leading 3.8 million tickets last season and enjoying a record $8.35-billion television contract.
“The management has used a very clever and fine hand in remaining super competitive, at the top of the heap, and opportunistic,” Guber said. “They’re prudent economically, because I think you have to be, recognizing there are different ways to build the team, whether it’s free agency, trades or the minor league system. All have been successes for us. Andrew and Stan have done a really job.