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News from Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker

Monday, December 14, 2020

California Supreme Court Rejects Golden State Warriors’ Last-Ditch Attempt to Evade Their Agreement to Pay Millions to City, County, Joint Powers Authority for Arena Renovations

Oakland, CA—Last Wednesday, the California Supreme Court denied the Golden State Warriors’ petition for review, the Warriors’ final attempt to overturn an arbitration decision, the superior court’s decision, and the appellate court’s decision, all of which found that the 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.

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. In August of this year, the Court of Appeal rejected the Warriors’ claim that their obligation to pay the debt ended when they chose to leave Oakland and ordered them to comply with the terms of the agreement.

The Warriors’ repudiation of their agreement required the City and County, as the members of the JPA, to engage in years of arbitration and litigation, costing over $1 million. Despite evidence of a shared agreement and shared understanding starting as far back as 1996, the Warriors nonetheless required the local governments to spend precious time and money over many years to enforce the terms of the agreement. The Warriors finally must pay the tens of millions of dollars they owe the City, County, and JPA, including the unpaid debt and legal costs and fees.

“This is the end of the line for the Warriors’ shameless attempts to avoid their debt obligations,” said City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “They have pursued their specious claims as far as they can go, and every court that has reviewed this case has refused to let the Warriors stiff their fans and ignore their debt. It’s time to pay back the local governments that fulfilled their agreement to renovate the Arena and poured their hearts and souls into supporting the team and yet had to spend years fighting to finally and fully win this battle and justice.”

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