NBA's Warriors seek to crowdsource tech for new stadium

Golden State, one of the NBA's hottest teams, wants geeky ideas from fans for its new San Francisco arena.

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Rendering of the Golden State Warriors' yet-to-built arena, Chase Center

Photo by Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors used technology to help them become an NBA juggernaut. Now, the team wants to do the same for its new state-of-the-art arena.

The defending Western Conference champions said Thursday they'd recruit fans in an innovation effort for the Chase Center, which is planned to open in 2019 in San Francisco. The team outreach, dubbed "Fannovate," is being run with Accenture, a tech consultancy.

The Warriors were early to recognize that tech-friendly arenas help engage fans. It was among the first in the league to install cameras that track when players touch or shoot the ball during a game. Today, stadiums and arenas offer everything from Wi-Fi networks to mobile apps that feed fans stats as they watch the action or even let them order food from their seats.

The Warriors say they'll rely on Accenture's Silicon Valley labs to help assemble the tech architecture around the complex and seek out potential tech partners.

"It's technology to try to enhance every aspect, from coming to the arena, to the park and to go shopping," said Rick Welts, the Warriors president and chief operating officer. "It's not technology for technology's sake."

Fans will be asked for their opinions for what tech should at the new arena beginning at Thursday night's game against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Warriors' current home. Though it shows its age, Oracle Arena has been an incubator for the team's tech experiments, including a huge HD-quality scoreboard above the court that lets fans see in-game action.

"We're bringing fans into the picture to be a part of the innovative process and vision that will make their experience unlike any other," Welts said.

The team hopes to have similar success at their soon-to-be new home across the Bay Bridge. The Warriors' planned move into San Francisco got a boost Tuesday after a California appellate court upheld a ruling that approved an environmental impact report for the new arena in the burgeoning Mission Bay area. That clears a major hurdle for the team after concerns were raised about the potential noise and traffic around the new complex.

Besides the new arena, the Warriors development also includes restaurants, cafes, offices and public plazas as well as a 5 1/2-acre waterfront park. The team sold naming rights for the 18,000-seat arena to JP Morgan Chase.

Welts said Accenture has already solicited ideas from Warriors staffers who interact with fans. Ideas include opinions on how fans can access and exit the parking lot and the quickest way they could order food and drinks from their smartphones.

Accenture Digital CEO Mike Sutcliff said his group is open to using Oracle Arena to test and fine-tune some ideas before the Warriors move to Chase Center three years from now. "We want to start off with a bang, showing we've listened, we've learned, we've prototyped and we've tested using the best that we can come up with," he said.

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