Neither the fans at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland nor Oracle Arena in Oakland have watched their home team win an NBA Finals game. That may well change when the NBA Finals start on June 4.
While one team has fully embraced all things new in its arena, installing a new court and the league’s largest center-hung scoreboard prior to LeBron’s return season, the other prepares to bid adieu to its longtime home, making preparation for a move across the bay to San Francisco by 2018.
Let’s take a closer look at the two venues hosting this year’s NBA Finals in Arena Wars: NBA Finals edition:
History and location
Oracle Arena: Next door to O.co Coliseum—home to the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders, even though neither team is too keen on that fact—in an industrial part of Oakland, Oracle Arena opened in November 1966 by hosting the Oakland Seals and San Diego Gulls for an NHL game. Building Oracle Arena—then known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena—drew the Seals away from San Francisco as part of their move into the NHL and eventually convinced the Warriors to move there full-time.
The San Francisco Warriors played there off and on since 1966 and changed their name to the Golden State Warriors in 1971. The arena underwent a massive interior overhaul, which sent the Warriors to San Jose for a season in the 1990s, that left the exterior intact but redid the seating bowl and added modern amenities.
Quicken Loans Arena: The Cleveland Cavaliers called the Coliseum at Richland, halfway between Cleveland and Akron, home for about 20 years. But that all changed when a new arena opened in the heart of downtown Cleveland in 1994, next to Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Since opening on the site of a former vegetable market, owner Dan Gilbert has spent more than $40 million on renovations that include a 31.5-by-56 videoboard that opened this season, the largest in the league.
Capacity for basketball
Quicken Loans: 20,562
Oracle: Don’t expect to spend too much time in the neighborhood surrounding the arena and neighboring stadium. Located south of downtown Oakland off Interstate 880, you can park at the arena or get off the BART Coliseum Station.
Quicken: Located in downtown Cleveland, you have plenty of transportation options. Folks can drive into downtown and find parking, walk from various points of interest or take both bus or rapid transit options.
Oracle: With the average price of a 16-ounce beer at $9.33, expect to pay the third highest amount in the NBA for your suds, trailing only New York and, you guessed it, Cleveland. The $4 soda stands on par with the league, while the $6 hot dog and $25 parking fall on the expensive side.
Quicken Loans: The $9.67 average beer price trails only the Knicks as the most expensive in the league, but the $3.50 soda, $3.50 hot dog and $10 parking are some of the more reasonable prices for their category. Of course, with LeBron back in town, this past season has seen the resale market for Cavaliers’ tickets run higher than most.
Oracle: The $100 million renovation in 1996 upped the capacity by more than 4,000 seats and created a total of 72 luxury suites and three “exclusive clubs.” Still a smaller layout than some arenas, the cramped confines of Oracle do provide good sightlines and help the venue get plenty loud when the feisty fans clad in yellow start rocking.
Quicken Loans: With the largest videoboard in the NBA, 11,682 square feet of new LED displays in the seating bowl and 88 suites, there’s plenty of modern amenities inside Quicken Loans.
NBA Finals history
Oracle: The Warriors made the NBA Finals in 1975, and while the arena was the fulltime home at the time, a scheduling conflict with a concert forced the team to play in its former home of Cow Palace. The Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the series, winning both games played in Cow Palace, south of San Francisco.
Quicken Loans: The Cavaliers played two games of the 2007 NBA Finals in Quicken Loans, losing both as Cleveland was swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Oracle: Enjoy yellow. With a yellow border around the floor and yellow keys, the prominent colors of the floor match the giveaway T-shirts in the crowd. The blue and yellow Warriors logo featuring the stylized Bay Bridge plays at center court.
Quicken Loans: The Cavaliers embraced downtown Cleveland with a new floor this year. The red keys, blue border and red C logo in the center are all enhanced by a downtown Cleveland skyline along one sideline.
Signature architectural elements
Oracle: 1966. That’s your signature. Even though the interior was redone by architect HNTB in 1996, the original Skidmore, Owings and Merrill exterior remains, including the circular concave roof and the glass walls and X-frame that surrounds the arena.
Quicken Loans: The Ellerbe Becket-designed Q makes use of its space, including a regulation-sized practice court, an exact replica of the main court and an underground service area that puts 55,000 square feet of space for tour bus and semi-truck parking below the arena. On the outside, a 750-square-foot glass canopy entrance with 350 panes of glass is accented with an angular roof designed in the actual shape of the arena turned at a 90-degree angle.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.