The Oakland Coliseum Arena is alive and well


The old Colosseum arena was abandoned by the Warriors two years ago and has been silent for the past 15 months, but don’t send for the wrecking ball.

The 55-year-old arena is about to come to life.

“We believe that we are ideally placed to attract a lot of events,” said Henry Gardner, executive director of the Joint Powers Authority, which administers the Coliseum and arena in the city of Oakland and Alameda County. “We haven’t had any in the last 15 months, but we’re already booking events, a lot of them, big events, at the arena, and I think there are a few at the Stadium.”

Two Oakland development groups are vying to bring a WNBA team to the region, either an expansion team or an offshore team. The WNBA has expressed interest, but such a scenario is likely expected in at least a few years.

Meanwhile, Gardner says the arena is ready to rock right now.

“People are eager to get their shows back on the road, literally, and customers are eager to come back to these facilities,” Gardner said.

When the Warriors moved to San Francisco, there was talk that the Oakland Arena could become a White Elephant, as the best arena acts and events poured into the Chase Center.

“We didn’t think so, and we think we’re going to be right,” Gardner said. “We have a top location on Chase Center. You can take BART, you can take AC Transit, you can park right there and walk a few yards and you’re inside the arena.

“Our venue is very well known nationally and many of these artists are coming back. And we haven’t built a $ 100 billion facility, so our prices are much more competitive.

While ultimate ownership of the Coliseum site is on hold – the A’s have an agreement to buy a 50% stake in Alameda County, and at least three groups are bidding for the other half – Gardner said he had indications that the arena would remain. Two of the bidding groups for the Colosseum site say the arena is in their plans.

“With every iteration of the Coliseum site (in our plans), the arena remains,” said Ray Bobbitt, an executive with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group. “It’s a community gem, it creates jobs all year round, from Disney On Ice to circuses. It’s our arena for the East Bay area, people love it, she’s in great shape.

Gardner pointed out that while the Colosseum arena is keen to attract business, the JPA won’t be soft on rental fees.

“We’re not going to be desperate because the place is dormant,” Gardner said, adding, “We have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure we get the best economic deal possible.… We are playing with the money of the people. taxpayers, money from the general fund that goes to essential services, the same pot of money that keeps libraries open and keeps streets cobbled and keeps firefighters on trucks. So don’t bring me your song about what whether it’s free.

One of the first big events at the Arena will be a Celine Dion concert on September 4th. Dion is playing at the Chase Center the day before.

Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @scottostler


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