Opening Friday with Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony in a sold-out concert, the glizy Chase Center will kick off a new era of live entertainment in San Francisco.
Promoters, booking agents, artists and pop music fans alike are enthusiastic about the new Golden State Warriors’ 18,064-seat arena in Mission Bay.
“It’s just going to have this real strong gravitational pull for artists. And I’m excited because I think people just don’t know yet how great this is going to be,” said Jodi Goodman, president of the Northen California division of Live Nation, the global promoter, presenter and ticketing agent.
Major acts — veterans like Eric Clapton, Cher and Santana and contemporary artists such as Chance the Rapper and Bad Bunny — are booked through April 2020, and more are expected to be announced. Ariana Grande, who performed at SAP Center in San Jose and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento in May, has routed her tour back to San Francisco on Dec. 17-18, to take advantage of the $1.4 billion arena.
Eric Bresler, executive director of Chase Center, attests to its state-of-the-art functionalities “built with the artist in mind.”
Features include: a freight elevator that can support 12,000 pounds of equipment that goes up to the catwalk; a “tension grid rigging system” allowing workers to walk from beam to beam above the arena floor with no need for a harness; and a gantry system that retracts the 9,699-square-foot LED scoreboard into the ceiling, away from the audience’s view.
And, in 2021 after testing, the center also will be home to a converted theater with 2,000- to 5,000 seats, along the lines of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, which also offers a 5,000-plus-seat space to accommodate intimate, as well as large, concert experiences
While Bridgestone’s flexible stage can be moved to open up more seats along the sidelines if ticket sales surpass 5,000, Chase Center’s theater’s fixed stage will stay under the scoreboard.
In exchange for flexibility, Bresler promises a theater with “floor-to-ceiling acoustical treatments,” all seats facing the stage and an experience that won’t feel like it’s in a downsized arena.
The theater hasn’t been booked yet, but Bresler said it will fill the niche between the Fillmore and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, mentioning “Lady Gaga Enigma + Jazz & Piano” at MGM’s Park Theater in Las Vegas or “Sesame Street Live!” at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles as types of shows he envisions there.
While Another Planet Entertainment’s Fox Theater in Oakland has 2,800 seats, and Live Nation’s Masonic in The City has 3,481, the new Chase Center, with strictly seated shows, would offer a good option between those and Bill Graham Civic’s 8,500-person capacity, mostly standing.
Goodman says Live Nation could have benefited from a 5,000-ticket seated show in the past, pointing to the Yusuf/Cat Stevens tour at the Masonic in 2014.
The theater will also be open to host award ceremonies and product launches, officials say.
Though detractors call the Chase Center an oversized robot-vacuum cleaner, say it will cause transit nightmares and that it’s a toast to opulence and reminder of abandonment, it will offer new opportunities in The City’s arts landscape.
“There’s no question that it’s a positive cultural thing having an 18,000-seat arena right in the center of San Francisco,” says Joel Selvin, former pop music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Selvin remembers when the Cow Palace in Daly City brought The Beatles and Elvis Presley to town, before big shows went to Oakland and San Jose.
“Now, did we need to have this arena in San Francisco?” Selvin asks before a long, thoughtful pause. “I don’t know, [but] it’s going to bring things back into the middle of the city that haven’t been there for a long, long time.”
Opening month at Chase Center
Sept. 6: Metallica, San Francisco Symphony
Sept. 10: Dave Matthews Band
Sept. 11: Eric Clapton
Sept. 12: Bon Iver
Sept. 13, Sept. 15: Elton John
Sept. 14: Chance the Rapper
Sept. 16: John Mayer
Sept. 19: Mumford and Sons
Sept. 21: Janet Jackson
Sept. 23: WWE Monday Night Raw
Sept. 24: WWE Smackdown Live
Sept. 28: Eric Church