Warriors break ground on Chase Center

The Golden State Warriors broke ground on the future site of the Chase Center on Jan. 17, 2017. (Photo: Steven Luke/Xpress)

A choir sang “Oh, Happy Day” as the Golden State Warriors broke ground  Tuesday at the  Chase Center, the future home of the Warriors.

Before the event began, fans lined up outside of the South Street entrance  while a party to celebrate the groundbreaking of the stadium took place under an indoor tent.

After 4.5  years of organizing, the Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts, and co-owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob brought out Kevin Frazier from television’s Entertainment Tonight to emcee the event.

“It’s the next big thing in this city, the next big thing in sports, and the next big thing period,” Frazier said in his opening speech about the privately funded state-of-the-art stadium.

Frazier was one of many high-profile people involved in the event. San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee also spoke and sat on stage while locally based politicians, highlighted by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, lined the front row of the audience.

“Two-hundred yards behind us will be center court, and even closer is where Beyonce will take the stage,” Welts said to the crowd. “A future president of the United States will be nominated here.”

Although AT&T Park does host such events, San Francisco was the only major city in the United States without an indoor stadium that seats more than 10,000 people. The Chase Center will change that, with capacity at 18,000.

But the primary attraction will be basketball as the Golden State Warriors return to San Francisco, where they played from 1962 to 1971.

If all goes according to plan, the team will move across the bridge from Oakland’s Oracle Arena and begin the 2019-2020 NBA season in their new home at the Chase Center. Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant picked up shovels and joined Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Fans of all ages gathered on South Street to be part of that history in the making.

Chantel and Michelle, who requested to be identified by first name only, walked their daycare students out to the construction area to be part of that history. “We wanted them to welcome our new neighbors,” Michelle said.

And welcome their neighbors is just what the children did, chanting “Warriors” as people entered the event.