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San Diego Seeks Firm to Handle Pechanga Arena Operations

Pechanga Arena

San Diego is looking for a firm to take over Pechanga Arena operations, as the city issued a request for proposals this week.

Originally opening in 1966, and known as the San Diego Sports Arena throughout much of its history, Pechanaga Arena is currently operated by AEG. It had been in negotiations with city officials in hopes of extending their current arrangement, but the city is now opening the door for other firms to pitch an agreement to take over operations.

An RFP issued on Tuesday seeks a firm to handle operations at the arena. Any agreement with the city would be on a relatively short-term basis–three years maximum–and would call for the prospective operator to maintain similar event types and uses as what the arena currently features.

The city’s decision to issue the RFP does not put AEG out of the running, but it does open the door for other firms–perhaps including H&S Ventures, which owns hockey’s San Diego Gulls (AHL)–to make their cases. More from the San Diego Reader:

“The City is seeking proposals that reflect the City’s desire to have an operator who provides a high level of service to the local and regional community, while operating the Property in a fiscally responsible manner,” says an April 23 Request for Proposals by the real estate assets department, with a closing date of May 31.

The current lease runs out in May of next year. According to previous accounts, AEG has been seeking to extend the contract from five to seven years. But rumors have been swirling regarding plans by other developers who covet the location to remake the property.

In October 2017, lobbyist California Strategies disclosed that it had been retained by Orange County-based H&S Ventures, LLC, owner of the Gulls hockey team an arena tenant, to seek either “improvement” of the venue or “entitlement of a facility in the San Diego region to host the San Diego Gulls, an American Hockey League team.”

For its part, incumbent leaseholder AEG has ingratiated itself with mayor Kevin Faulconer by way of $5000 the entertainment giant kicked in for One San Diego, Faulconer’s non-profit operation, in March 2018. On April 16 of this year, AEG hired the lobbying outfit of Southwest Strategies to lobby for a “short term lease extension for Sports Arena facility,” per Southwest’s disclosure filing.

Though an aging facility, Pechanga Arena remains active for concerts, indoor sports, and other events. The Gulls have been a major draw there since relocating to San Diego from Norfolk, VA in 2015, when it was one of several AHL clubs that moved from the east coast to the west coast and joined the league’s newly formed Pacific Division.

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