Alamedans Contribute to Washington Park Court Redo
An effort initiated by the Alameda Theatre leads to impressive donations and matching funds for new courts.
Photo by Lance Yamamoto
When two newly restored blue-and-gold courts at Alameda’s Washington Park — one of 70 Bay Area courts refurbished by the Golden State Warriors Community Foundation as part of its Makin’ Hoops program — opened in September, over 200 people came out to celebrate the redo. The crowd turnout was bigger than any other court unveiling, according to Joanne Pasternack, the foundation’s vice president of community relations and executive director.
The Alameda project differed from the others in another way as well: The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex group came forward with funds for the new courts, donating $60,000 toward the $120,000 cost of rebuilding the Washington Park courts, said Larry Harper, founder and chairman of the Good Tidings Foundation, a Warriors Community Foundation partner.
“One hundred percent of our donation to the Warriors Community Foundation was raised via the Alameda Theatre watch parties of 2015, 2016, and 2017,” said Allison Shannon, the Alameda Theatre event director who initiated the partnership between the theater and the foundation, referring to watch parties of Warriors games at the theater.
“We wanted to share with the community their desire to watch the games here and be a part of the success of the Warriors, and that’s been really well received,” Alameda Theatre owner Kyle Conner said.
Conner provided the large, historic theater, which seats 746, as a venue for Warriors fans to watch the three previous playoff seasons, filling the theater to capacity with the energy of a live arena crowd.
“The fans yelled at the officials, cheered [Steph] Curry’s skills, bashed the opponents, and high-fived their neighbors,” Shannon said of the ambience at a typical watch party. “The advantages of being at the theater versus the arena were less about the TV instant replay or the unbeatable price of admission but more about celebrating the spirit of friendship, community, and the team and theater that brought them together.”
An optional $1 donation was requested for every ticket purchased for game watching, though fans could donate more — and many did. The Warriors Community Foundation provided swag — signed player apparel, bobble heads, imitation championship rings, and foam fingers, for instance — for fans to bid on during silent or live auctions that took place at the theater during game intermissions. The auctions raised the bulk of the $60,000.
The Warriors Community Foundation and its partners then matched Alameda Theatre’s auction proceeds to rebuild the decrepit courts, which were rutted with roots peeking up through the pavement, had dilapidated nets or were missing nets altogether, and had crooked backboards. They have been transformed into sleek, modern resurfaced courts painted in Warriors colors with new basketball standards, rims, and nets.
The Washington Park basketball courts are used more than 2,500 times during a typical summer and 6,500 times during the school year annually, according to city estimates. Since the unveiling, visitors would be hard-pressed to find them empty.
“We expect the courts not to be pretty for a week or a year or five years; we have courts going on 15 and 20 years still looking beautiful,” Pasternack said. “The courts in Alameda are reflective of that. The community will benefit for decades to come.”
With the NBA playoffs underway, Alameda Theatre is once again an official watch party family venue, complete with raffles, giveaways, trivia quizzes, and dance contests.
“We never set a dollar goal in any of the past watch party seasons,” Shannon said. “We simply created fun game nights for Bay Area families to come together to enjoy, and they generously thanked us by donating to the Warriors foundation. Our watch party fans are the true warriors who built those beautiful blue courts.”