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AEG Pitches New San Diego Arena

Proposed New San Diego Arena

Sports giant AEG is pitching a new San Diego arena in Seaport Village that would likely replace Valley View Casino Center as the city’s entertainment center.

The city is seeking development proposals for Seaport Village. AEG is teaming up with San Diego development firm OliverMcMillan on a proposal for an arena and an entertainment district a la LA Live and the Staples Center. The goal: a new arena will attract the large acts that bypass the smaller Valley View Casino Center (capacity: 14,400) and Viejas Arena (capacity: 12,500). Larger touring acts have increasingly bypassed San Diego in favor of LA’s Staples Center or Inglewood’s Forum. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The total cost of the Embarcadero District plan is estimated at $1.4 billion. Zachary Adams, development director for OliverMcMillan, said it would be premature to discuss financing for the project until the port district makes its selection. He said the company “certainly has a financing team in place.”

In addition to the arena, the proposed development would include three hotels with a combined 1,700 rooms, 325,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 125,000 square feet of office space, a 10,000-square-foot Scripps Institution of Oceanography learning center and a 2,000-square-foot area for educational and outreach activities by the San Diego Symphony.

Despite AEG’s experience owning and operating sports teams and sports venues, there doesn’t seem to be anything sports-related in this proposal. There’s no buzz about the NBA or NHL in San Diego, but you could see the AHL’s San Diego Gulls being a big success in a new arena under the right conditions. But even they may not be necessary: AEG knows how to run a top-notch arena without a flagship sports tenant.

The AEG/OliverMcMillan is one of six proposals for the Seaport Village area. While the process calls for the San Diego Unified Port District to begin considering proposals next week, the current leaseholder for the 70-acre site has an agreement for Seaport Village through 2018. That means construction wouldn’t start until 2019.

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