Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy Talks Record-Breaking Night

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
Santa Cruz Warriors
Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy (PC: Dan Coyro, Santa Cruz Sentinel) /

Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy dishes on the record-setting crowd at the team’s first-ever game at Oracle Arena, the possibility of attracting fans who have been priced out at Oracle, and rumors surrounding the new arena that Santa Cruz plans to build in the near future.

OAKLAND, Calif. — When the Santa Cruz Warriors, D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, hosted their first-ever game at Oracle Arena on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, things went pretty much as expected as a crowd of 17,497 fans poured in from all over the Bay Area and the Central Coast and beyond, establishing a new single-game NBA D-League attendance record.

The previous record of 15,011 — set by the Raptors 905 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Dec. 20, 2016 — was completely obliterated, and if we take the words of Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy seriously, then this likely won’t be the last time anyone sees Santa Cruz breaking records at Oracle.

"“I think I spent 11 years working for Golden State before going to Santa Cruz, so I knew full well what this building is capable of, but I don’t think as we were planning for the last couple months and watching tickets sales and kind of leading up…I think it exceeded [expectations],” said Murphy.“I think to get that many people to watch and really adopt the Warriors and our version of the Warriors is just something I’ll probably never forget — ’til next year when we break that record, again.”"

Breaking their own attendance record next season is quite a lofty goal for Santa Cruz after being able to fill the home of one of the most renowned NBA fan bases to 90 percent capacity, but if there’s anything the Warriors organization has proven to be good at the past couple years, it’s breaking records that they previously shattered the year before.

The fact that Golden State’s D-League affiliate could get in on the record-breaking trend truly epitomizes just how engaged and balanced the entire organization is as a whole, which is certainly something to which Murphy can attest.

"“Big testament to the whole Warriors organization [establishing the new D-League attendance record]. That’s not something [for which] we sold that many tickets straight from Santa Cruz; I think there was a lot of support from Golden State,” Murphy said.“I think that kind of shows the synergy between the two organizations — Golden State and us — using a lot of their marketing channels to help promote. I’m sure you guys have seen it on broadcast and on the radio you hear about it, and I think that’s just a great example of two organizations working together because we ARE one. We’re not separate.”"

While many may rightly blur the organizational lines between Santa Cruz and Golden State, it’s arguable that people who are primarily Golden State fans don’t exactly realize what’s happening just an hour-and-a-half south of Oakland.

As Murphy understands, bringing the Santa Cruz experience to the Bay Area for the first time could have very well introduced D-League basketball to new or casual Warriors fans.

Hopefully giving everyone a small sample of what the Sea Dubs are capable not only attracts those types of fans, but also attracts some of the longtime Warriors faithful who may have been priced out from purchasing Oracle tickets.

"“I think a lot of people aren’t necessarily familiar with the D-League and kind of everything about it,” said Murphy. “To bring that exciting level of basketball to this many additional people, plus all those that watch on Comcast or listen on the radio –”“I mean all of sudden you have a Golden State ticket that is really hard to get, right? So you have a lot of people that may not have access to come to Golden State games that may now look and say ‘Hey, this is actually fun; they’re playing at Oracle; there are 17,000 people that get tickets; and maybe it’s worth making that drive down there.'”“So I think that’s the big hope — is to continue to build awareness for our brand and hopefully draw some of those people down.”"

As many are aware, Golden State tickets are set to become even more expensive, and that price will only be further hiked up when Golden State moves into their new Mission Bay waterfront arena in San Francisco.

As it turns out, the Santa Cruz Warriors are in negotiations for a new arena as well. That fact was confirmed when Adam Johnson of D-League Digest asked Murphy what he’d say to fans that suspected Santa Cruz’s game at Oracle Arena was possibly a “precursor to an eventual move of any kind.”

Next: Santa Cruz Warriors Lose 105-96 to OKC Blue at Oracle Arena

Murphy put those rumors to rest, assuring that the Santa Cruz Warriors would remain in Surf City for the foreseeable future.

"“We have no intention of leaving Santa Cruz. We love it there. They’ve embraced us. We are firmly committed to the Santa Cruz community,” Murphy adamantly stated.“So I think that it’s kind of more like a unique opportunity, a unique exciting time; not one single iota of like, ‘test marketing.'”“We love Santa Cruz.”"

As for the possibility of more Santa Cruz games at Golden State’s home arena, Murphy made it clear that such an experience would likely be limited to just being an annual occurrence.

"“I think it’s a good one-time-a-year event type thing, as like a special opportunity for our season ticket holders to do something different and to bring our brand up here, but I don’t foresee playing here more than once a year,” Murphy said."

Unfortunately, the Santa Cruz Warriors lost their game at Oracle Arena to the Oklahoma City Blue 105-96, but they’ll have a chance at revenge when they go to visit OKC on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Fans will be able to catch that game via Facebook Live, and tip-off will be at 5:00 p.m. PST.