New SD Loyal stadium pitched at arena redevelopment

new SD Loyal stadium is proposed as part of a planned redevelopment of the 48-acre sports arena property, as the city reviews two submissions for an overhaul of the underused Pechanga Arena property.

The modular stadium for the USL Championship squad, which launched this year under an ownership group that includes Warren Smith and Landon Donovan, is just a temporary facility under the master development plan proposed under the umbrella of 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, 106,500 square feet of retail space and a hotel.

A modular $15-$20 million, 12,000-seat stadium (expandable to 15,000 seats) 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 stadium would host 20 Loyal home games as well as high school and college sporting events, concerts, commencements, and other community-sponsored happenings, available 365 days a year. The goal: a festival environment with food trucks, a beer garden, live music and a picnic pavilion.

Modular stadiums have proven to be successful in professional soccer: both Sacramento Republic and Phoenix Rising play in modular stadiums on a temporary basic, and both teams draw well.

As noted, the Midway Sports & Entertainment District is one of two proposals for the sports-arena redevelopment. The other: a plan from Brookfield Properties in partnership with 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.

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

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