The City of San Diego is looking to revitalize the Sports Arena area, with hopes of adding more entertainment options and affordable housing to the well-known, busy zone in the heart of the Midway District.
In a press release Friday, the city and Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the city is seeking proposals from qualified firms to “redevelop, rehabilitate, operate and maintain” the 48-acre site commonly known by locals as the Sports Arena.
The site, located within the city’s “Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan” area, spans six parcels of land.
Today, it’s home to the Pechanga Arena San Diego on Sports Arena Boulevard – originally the San Diego Sports Arena, hence its forever-nickname.
That venue is used for concerts and touring events like “Disney on Ice.”
It’s also where the San Diego Gulls play pro hockey when they’re home and where the San Diego Seals lacrosse team plays. The San Diego Sockers also use the arena.
Retail shops and a parking lot round out the Sports Arena area.
According to the city, this community “is undergoing extensive revitalization and is a leading commercial center with diverse retail and affordable housing opportunities.”
And the city thinks it’s time to explore those opportunities.
So, now through 5 p.m. on June 4, the city will accept proposals from qualified organizations that’ll help advance the area’s vision of a “pedestrian and transit-oriented landmark that sustainably incorporates a mix of entertainment, office retail, residential, affordable housing, recreational, public and park/plaza uses.”
In those bids, companies can also propose the renovation or even the rebuilding of Pechanga Arena San Diego, the city said. The arena could be replaced with new commercial retail, office space or residential options.
Faulconer welcomes the change.
“This is an opportunity to breathe new life into the Midway and unlock its full potential as an entertainment district for all San Diegans to enjoy,” he said, in part, in Friday’s news release.
San Diego City Councilmember Jen Campbell represents the area and she said this opportunity both important and unique because that’s exactly what the Sports Arena area is.
“This urban location, with its close proximity to downtown, could become a vital connector to our beach and bay communities while remaining a lively entertainment destination,” Campbell said. “If done correctly, Midway can become an example of how visionary San Diego can be.”
NBC 7 reached out to the San Diego Gulls and San Diego Seals for comment on the idea of a bid that would include a new sports arena.
Penchanga Arena seats between 12,000 and 15,000 people. According to the venue’s website, the arena hosts 125 events and 750,000 visitors annually.
The venue first opened in November 1966 as the San Diego International Sports Arena. By 1970, it dropped the “International” became just the San Diego Sports Arena. The arena has changed names many times over the past 53 years but for the bulk of those years – and in the minds of San Diegans – it’s best known as the Sports Arena.