On stage, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of jubilant fans at the Warriors’ parade celebrating the team’s NBA Championship in June, franchise co-owner Joe Lacob said he recognized that “times are hard” for the city of Oakland. Although the Bay Area economy is booming, the city has struggled to fund crucial services while its infrastructure suffers from years of neglect. Lacob promised that “this parade, this whole day, all the costs, every dollar, are on us.”
“It’s our gift to the city of Oakland,” he added, to a roar of approval.
But according to the city, the Warriors have yet to pay for the 2017 championship celebration — or for the 2015 parade either.
The city of Oakland submitted an $815,896 bill to the Warriors on July 19, requesting payment by Aug. 18 for all of the costs related to this year’s celebration. The city also billed the Warriors for the 2015 parade celebrating that year’s championship. The Warriors never reimbursed Oakland for police overtime and public works crews that facilitated the 2015 event. According to city records, the total cost for the 2015 festivities was $244,278.
Warriors officials did not respond to multiple requests from the Express to discuss the parade’s cost and whether they will reimburse the city for the 2015 parade also.
But back in June, numerous local newspaper and TV stations erroneously reported that the Warriors had already paid $4 million for the parade and falsely implied that the team had reimbursed Oakland — when it had not. Several of these news stories cited an unnamed source in the Warriors organization.
In all, the city claims that the Warriors owe $1,060,174 for the 2015 and 2017 parades.
But city officials also say the Warriors are questioning some of the items Oakland is billing them for. The city and team are trying to reach an agreement.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told the Express in an email that the parade ended up costing the city three times more than the original estimate it provided to the team. She also said the bill includes some standard labor costs that the city would have incurred whether or not there had been a parade. The mayor, however, did not provide details of what those costs were. She said the city is “thankful [the Warriors] held this celebration in Oakland and that they were willing to pay for its substantial costs,” and that “the Warriors have given us no reason to doubt they will honor their commitments.”
However, the city doesn’t have much recourse if the Warriors don’t pay or pay significantly less than what the city feels the team owes. That’s because Oakland and the Warriors didn’t sign any kind of contract.
It’s no wonder the city is trying to collect as much as it can from the team. A million dollars could go a long way in Oakland.
The city’s ongoing financial problems were underscored earlier this year during several city council debates leading up to approval of a two-year budget.
Oakland officials fought over funding for housing, jobs, homeless services, sanitation, parks, and recreation programs. Ultimately, the council had to cut funding for a police academy and entirely eliminate a fire academy and illegal dumping cleanup crew in order to balance the budget.
Some activists were also disappointed that spending on homeless services didn’t receive a multimillion-dollar increase, noting that the city has a growing shelter crisis. Instead, the council only appropriated $250,000 to improve safety and sanitation around Oakland’s numerous homeless encampments — roughly the same amount as the cost of the 2015 parade.
According to city records, the most expensive services Oakland provided to the Warriors for this year’s celebration were related to police security and public works costs. Oakland police had 588 officers and civilian employees work overtime during the event, providing security along the parade route and around the stage near the Kaiser Convention Center. Police labor alone cost the city $313,372, plus the department spent $39,441 on vehicle rentals and another $1,540 on bottled water.
Public works mobilized 153 employees to set up and take down pedestrian and vehicle barriers along the eight-mile parade route and later cleaned up after the crowd of about 1 million people who attended the day’s events. Public works spent $257,909 on the parade, including an estimated $28,000 repairing damaged landscaping that was trampled around Lake Merritt and several parks in downtown Oakland.
Karen Boyd, spokesperson for the Oakland city administrator, wrote in an email to the Express that recent terrorist attacks against crowds in other cities prompted Oakland to take greater precautions at the last minute. This drove up the overall cost of the event as more employees were asked to work overtime shifts to set up barriers and detours. It may have also contributed to the spending above and beyond the city’s original estimate.
“Consequently, in preparing for the Warriors 2017 parade and rally, the city engaged in a significantly greater level of security planning and implementation, as well as increased medical response support and logistical resources to manage a projected 50-percent increase in crowd size,” explained Boyd.
The fire department also deployed 114 firefighters and other employees to work the parade, spending $189,507. And the city paid $11,970 for standby paramedics ready to assist injured spectators.
The parade itself was a resounding success, drawing approximately 1 million people to Oakland and putting the city in the national spotlight. City officials have claimed that the celebrations are worth more than they cost because hundreds of thousands of visitors spend at local businesses and restaurants and stay in hotels, generating tax revenue. But Oakland has not attempted to gauge the economic impact of the Warriors parade and has no records measuring increased revenues, according to the city’s finance department.
The parade costs aren’t the first financial disagreement between Oakland and the Warriors. The team is moving out of Oakland to San Francisco in 2019, when its new waterfront arena is expected to open. And the team’s leadership has said it doesn’t intend to continue paying $7.5 million per year to retire debt on the Oracle Arena. That would leave the city and Alameda County on the hook for tens of millions of dollars to pay off bonds floated to refurbish the Arena in the 1990s for the Warriors. The joint city-county authority that runs the Arena has hired legal counsel to possibly sue the Warriors in order to collect the debt if the team refuses to pay it off.