There are many striking contrasts between Golden State’s Oracle Arena and Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, but the two venues are now on the big stage of the NBA Finals.
The 2019 NBA Finals begin Thursday, featuring a best-of-seven matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors. The differences in the histories of the two franchises bring several notable contrasts, including the dissimilarities between their venues.
Oracle Arena first opened in 1966 as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. The Warriors have put the facility in the spotlight in recent years, as this marks their fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.
While the 2015-2018 Finals were memorable in their own ways, the 2019 edition will be notable in that will represent the final NBA games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors continue to make progress on the construction of the Chase Center in San Francisco and are set to open the facility this fall. Oracle Arena is slated to remain open for events after the Warriors leave for San Francisco, though there are still questions about what exactly will happen to it in the long run.
One interesting bit of trivia about Oracle Arena is that it did not host its first NBA Finals game until 2015, despite the Warriors competing for the NBA championship 40 years earlier. Though the Warriors made a trip to the finals in 1975, the Ice Follies had already been booked for their home venue—forcing all of their home games during the series to be played at the Cow Palace in Daly City. (Despite the inconvenience, the Warriors swept the Washington Bullets).
The Warriors will represent the Western Conference as a franchise that is familiar with the NBA Finals, but that is not the case for the Eastern Conference representative, the Toronto Raptors. With the Raptors making their first-ever NBA Finals appearances, the team will be playing in the most high-profile games of Scotiabank Arena’s two major sports tenants to date.
Located in downtown Toronto, the current Scotiabank Arena—known as Air Canada Centre until anaming-rights deal with Scotiabank took effect last summer—has been home to the Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs since its February 1999 opening. Despite some runs of success, neither franchise had made a finals appearance during respective tenures at Scotiabank Arena until now.
The Raptors began play as an expansion team in 1995, initially calling the SkyDome (now known as Rogers Centre) their home. The franchise’s first game at the then-Air Canada Centre was played on February 21, 1999 against the Vancouver Grizzlies.
Notably, the NBA Finals was bound to first to be a first for at least one arena based on the teams that competed in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks, the runner-up to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference, opened downtown Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum at the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Image of Scotiabank Arena courtesy Toronto Raptors. Image of Oracle Arena courtesy Golden State Warriors.
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