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Competing San Diego arena plans emerge

Local officials are reviewing two proposals for the redevelopment of the 48-acre San Diego arena site, with two dramatically different visions presented for the overhaul of the underused Pechanga Arena property.

The more ambitious of the San Diego arena plans comes from Midway Sports & Entertainment District, a product of a partnership between San Diego real-estate developer David Malmuth and developer Toll Brothers Properties. The Midway Sports & Entertainment District proposal is a classic mixed-use development, updating the arena to the tune of $125 million and surrounding it with a 12-acre public park, an additional 3,500-seat music venue, 1,400 housing units, 185,000 square feet of office space, 125,000 square feet of retail space, a 12-acre public park and a hotel. That’s the Midway Sports & Entertainment District proposal in the rendering at the top of this page.

A modular $15-$20 million, 12,000-seat stadium (expandable to 15,000 seats) for the USL Championship San Diego Loyal soccer team would be one of the first parts of the Midway Sports & Entertainment District development. According to the proposal submitted to the city, the stadium will be approximately 50-feet tall and will utilize the existing parking on the Sports Arena site during a Phase 2 development. 

The other: a plan from Brookfield+ASM Global Development, a partnership between Brookfield Properties and ASM Global (formed last year with the merger of SMG and AEG Facilities). AEG Entertainment currently holds the lease on Pechanga Arena, but the plan doesn’t call for an extensive renovation of the arena, which opened in November 1966. (How old is the arena? It once hosted ABA basketball.) The Brookfield plan also doesn’t feature much in the way of a mixed-use redevelopment, focusing on five acres of public parks, 2,100 housing units and the rest (590,000 square feet) devoted to retail space.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Pechanga Arena was a heavily used venue for concerts and entertainment acts, as well as San Diego Sockers (MASL) and San Diego Gulls (AHL) games.

What comes next: the city reviews both San Diego arena plans and then submits one to voters via public referendum; approval needs just a simple majority of voters.

This article first appeared in the free Arena Digest weekly newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here!

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