San Diego City Council has unanimously chosen three finalists out of a field of five to redevelop the 48-acre former Sports Arena site to be anchored by affordable housing in the Midway District.
Eliminated from the competition were Neighborhood Next, and Discover Midway, leaving Midway Rising, HomeTownSD, and Midway Village+.
City staff evaluated all five proposals on several criteria, with top priority given to the total amount of affordable housing they proposed, as well as their experience with building sports arenas.
The 48-acre Sports Arena site is viewed by the City as a potential catalyst for broader revitalization of the long-blighted Midway District. However, hanging over – and perhaps hanging up – the project is an ongoing court challenge to the 2020 voter-approved removal of the 30-foot coastal height limit in the Midway District. A judge in 2021 blocked the implementation of the measure, contending the City had failed to properly evaluate the environmental impacts of taller buildings.
“This is a critical issue for not just my district but the entire City,” said District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell. “Midway has the potential to be a major site for economic opportunity, tourism, and most importantly, diverse housing needs. It is important that the momentum of Midway’s development is not slowed down, and I see the renovation versus replacement decision regarding the existing arena as a primary factor.”
“I want to thank the City Council for unanimously supporting our recommendation to initiate the next phase of negotiations with these bidders,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “We are now a step closer to realizing a revitalized Midway District that all of us can be proud of. My goal remains to deliver a project that creates significant affordable housing and a new world-class arena that will serve the people of this city for generations to come.”
The City plans to hire a consultant to vet the financial feasibility of all three finalist’s submissions, with an eye toward picking a winning bidder by December. The Peninsula Beacon asked the three remaining redevelopment contestants why their proposal should be selected:
Beacon: Why is your plan the best and why should your team be selected?
Midway Village+: We propose a significant number of new affordable housing units –1,610 in total. We offer 640 two- and three-bedroom homes to accommodate larger and multi-generational families. We also are pledging to build dedicated homes for seniors while providing facilities for on-site preschool and childcare. Our plan also offers the greatest potential for job creation and economic development. We are the only team to propose three entertainment venues — not only a new 15,000-seat world-class arena but also a new 3,500-seat events hall, as well as community soccer fields and a soccer stadium for the San Diego Loyal. Together, our team has developed and managed more than 107,000 multifamily housing units, 12 world-class arenas and stadiums, 60 million square feet of mixed-use development, and $40 billion in development.
Midway Rising: Our unmatched commitment to affordable housing is why Midway Rising has the top proposal to revitalize the Midway/Sports Arena area. Our plan provides the most affordable housing of any proposal, and that, alongside a new arena, 20 acres of parks, job training and so much more is what differentiates Midway Rising from the rest. At its core, Midway Rising is about lifting up every aspect of the Midway District to benefit the San Diego community at large and make the arena and surrounding area an enjoyable place for San Diego families to visit for generations to come.
HomeTownSD: Our plan will deliver a transformative mixed-income community built in an equitable, inclusive and sustainable way. Housing is our top priority, with more than 2,000 affordable and middle-income apartment homes and 1,250 market-rate apartment homes which will serve tens of thousands of families over the life of the project. We provide the housing San Diegans need most. Our world-class arena and entertainment district will be tailor-made for San Diego’s home teams and provide a state-of-the-art venue for concerts and events, as well as an urban marketplace for diverse local entrepreneurs.
Our women-led team has deep local roots. Our project is truly a community, from its expansive parks to the critical services provided for residents, including a 10,000- square-foot childcare center with the capacity to serve up to 125 children. It is a project that invests in real career paths for the workers who build it and sustain it creating local jobs for working families.
Beacon: Tell us about your plan for a new sports arena?
Midway Village+: We plan to build a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue with a 15,000-seat capacity that would host a range of sports, concerts, family shows, conventions, and cultural and civic events. Current plans call for the arena to be situated in the upper-left corner of the site, which we believe has tremendous economic, community, and fiscal benefits to the neighborhood and city as a whole. We look forward to engaging the Gulls and other local teams in how best to participate in the arena. Because our arena will be built on a different area of the site than the Pechanga Arena, we anticipate that the teams would be able to continue operations for all, or at least most, of the construction period.
Midway Rising: The Sports Arena is old and neglected. We have the team and vision to change that. Leading our arena development are Legends and AECOM – the most experienced sports construction and management team in the nation who together have built the best, most innovative venues across the globe, including LA’s landmark SoFi Stadium. No other team has the financial depth and operational heft Midway Rising does when it comes to the Sports Arena. Our team plans to keep the current arena operational as the new one is completed. We’ll deliver a new, modern arena within walking distance of the Old Town Transit Center. This new arena will attract world-class events for all of San Diego to enjoy and jump-start the community revitalization and job creation the Midway District has long needed.
HomeTownSD: Our team includes JMI Sports, which has brought not one but two visionary local sports and entertainment facilities to fruition – Petco Park and the new Aztec Stadium. We have the experience and financial balance sheets required to deliver a project at this scale and complexity.
We’ll bring San Diego’s arena into the 21st century to serve our home teams, and an array of elite music and entertainment acts. This modern, flexible arena could host 8,000 to 10,000 hockey and lacrosse fans, and 10,000 concertgoers, and expand to a 12,500-person capacity for special events. Adjacent to the arena, a marquee office and hotel building featuring approximately 300 rooms will support the arena’s events and employees. Built sustainably, this marquee building will display lush, green terraces with green walls, patios, and a new urban tree canopy, inviting the community in to experience the state-of-the-art arena, food hall, restaurants, and shopping.
Beacon: Removing the 30-foot height limit for the area is being challenged. Can you build the housing element without going above 30 feet in height?
Midway Village+: You could certainly build some housing on that site but that is not what the Midway community plan calls for, nor is it the best and highest use for the site. That 48-acre sports arena site has always been envisioned as a catalyst that, if done correctly, would generate all types of housing and related development across the remaining 950 or so acres in the Midway District. Building a bunch of homes on that site and nothing else won’t give you anything to build around. It would not drive the quality mixed-use development needed to revitalize an aging and neglected part of town.
Midway Rising: Ignoring the will of the voters on Measure E would result in thousands fewer affordable housing units for San Diego and put the revitalization of the Midway District in jeopardy. We’re committed to respecting the community’s voice and vision for the Midway’s revitalization in every way we can – financially, operationally, and at the ballot if City leaders decide that’s the best path forward.
HomeTownSD: Transforming this public land is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for San Diegans. We are committed to being a good partner with the City and will work closely with them to eliminate any and all barriers that would significantly inhibit its potential. We believe the best project for this site, and the best future for this community, are only possible by excluding the community from the Coastal Height Limit Overlay.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons