Will the Chargers win the Super Bowl next year, can the Padres defend their divisional title and will we ever see an NBA franchise again in San Diego? Yes, yes, and yes. Surveying the local professional sport scene is something I do often. As National City has explored opportunities on port of San Diego properties, it has become crystal clear that a visitor-serving venue in our city would complete a world class bayfront for the region.
Why an NBA team? As we explained in the Charger stadium process, it’s not the team, but the site that makes many things possible. This is because of transportation infrastructure, proximity to a booming downtown and a bi-national region of 5 million people. Throw in the lack of an 18,000 to 22,000 seat venue in this region as another factor as well as the boom in soccer and the potential of events such as concerts and boxing. With Sycuan building a hotel in National City and ramping up their entertainment business outside of gaming — I see world championship boxing. Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao the great Filipino fighter versus the pride of Tijuana, Erik “El Terrible” Morales. The Rolling Stones on their farewell, farewell comeback tour playing National City. Finally, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal reunited as the Lakers battle the San Diego “insert name” in the NBA conference finals.
The time is ripe to look at how we build a diversified bayfront that creates synergy, jobs and brings vital tourism dollars to our cities. A sports arena that needs replacement would be a great fit in our city and good for the region. The NBA is now a global game with foreign players a norm on all rosters. Expansion into Mexico City or China has been mentioned to follow the Toronto Raptors in Canada. It’s easy to see our bi-national region as a unique market for the NBA. Imagine San Diego’s basketball record holder Chase Budinger, the University of Arizona freshman All American, as the star of a San Diego team playing with an established star San Diego’s Luke Walton, Bill Walton as general manager. Naaah. Or build it and they will come.