A 2021 rendering of Midway Rising.

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City of San Diego staff has picked its favorite team to redevelop the Sports Arena site and is asking the City Council to cut two of the five bidders out of the running. 

A new report released Tuesday reveals that city staff believes Midway Rising, the team led by the housing developer Zephyr, should be given priority. And two other teams, Hometown SD and Midway Village+ should also be examined “In order to have options for the City as we move through further negotiations,” the report states. 

This is just the staff recommendation and the City Council could decide on a different route. 

The two bids the staff would like to put in the round file include Neighborhood Next led by the ConAm Group. It had the most housing, and more affordable housing than Midway Village+, but the director of real estate assets for the city, Penny Maus, who wrote the report, said the team didn’t have a viable plan to build a new arena. 

The three teams to advance, in fact, under Maus’ preferred scenario all pledge to build an entirely new arena. Discover Midway, the team led by Brookfield Properties, had also only pledged to revitalize the existing arena. 

The staff recommendation shows how much Mayor Todd Gloria is prioritizing a new arena on the land, at least in the case of one of the bidders, over affordable housing. 

Brookfield’s omission from city staff’s finalists was particularly striking. The firm’s proposal two years ago had gotten the city’s blessing and it helped finance the campaign for Measure E to lift the height limit in the area to make all of this possible. But the state said the city had run afoul of the law that requires cities to make affordable housing the top priority for new developments on public land cities decide they don’t need any longer. 

Now Brookfield could be out just like Measure E, which a judge said was illegally placed before voters without sufficient analysis of its impact on community views. 

Go deeper: Our latest Politics Report provided more context on where things stand in the wake of a court decision scuttling Measure E, which not only removed the height limit for the Sports Arena land but for the entire Midway community. 

None of these projects work unless voters approve a measure like that again – even a new arena with the same height as the current one would not be allowed to be built. 

Go even deeper: The mayor’s insistence that the area have a new arena is certainly noteworthy. There’s nothing about the area that makes it a great place for an arena besides the fact that there’s one there now. 

Why is there one there now? In some ways, it’s a monument to a decades-long, successful effort to re-segregate the Midway/Point Loma area. If you missed our January story about how the city came to own the land in Midway we’re talking about, catch up here.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Scott, good reporting as always. But what will a new arena bring to San Diego? A new arena for what, exactly? The planned arenas that have been discussed to date on the Sports Arena site are too small to house an NBA team or an NHL team. Not that there is any interest among NBA or NHL officials to bring a team here anyway. SDSU basketball of course has its own arena. Indoor soccer? Yawn. This city, the 8th largest in the nation, has no NBA team, no NHL team, no NFL team, no MLS team, and a baseball team that is finally making a little noise after years and years of futility. Again, I would love to hear what sport they plan to put in this new arena. Or will it be primarily for live music? Or…. ?? I’m a frustrated San Diego sports fan, of course, but I also realize the desperate need for more “low-cost” housing in San Diego.

    1. Mr. Reno, I really appreciate your concerns and hark back to my childhood, a time of innocence in San Diego. We took the number 5 bus in Western Hills for boyhood trips to watch our beloved Rockets and Gulls. We watched the Circus too! I love my San Diego. I am a sports nut extraordinaire. San Diego kissed the NFL goodbye a few years ago except we still maintain hope of an NHL and NBA franchise and as a candidate for SDCC D2, by God I will see that San Diego is a number one sports town. 858 405 5118 to volunteer Dan Smiechowski for City Council. Thank you, sir!

    2. Presumably the arena will host the team’s that play there now excepting the Sockers who are moving up to Oceanside to play in a new facility they are building. The current arena is a busy place hosting not only sports but concerts, ice shows and other events. Supposedly it is one of the most used arenas in the country for its size. You are correct that the NBA and NHL consider the seating capacities of the proposed arenas to be too small, and it’s doubtful that the Clippers, Lakers, Kings and Ducks want competition from a San Diego team. So a smaller capacity probably fits the needs of the SD market. My issue with the new arena plans is the location. Access is poor and the proposed housing will make the area even more inaccessible due to increased auto traffic which under current conditions is poor.

  2. The big mistake of the Neighborhood Next proposal was it believed Todd Gloria when he said we need to solve homelessness and build more affordable housing.

  3. This statement is incorrect, “even a new arena with the same height as the current one would not be allowed to be built. ” The Sports Arena is grandfathered in at its current height.

    And this statement needs explaining. “Why is there one there now? In some ways, it’s a monument to a decades-long, successful effort to re-segregate the Midway/Point Loma area. ” How did this entertainment have anything to do with re-segregating these areas?

      1. I’m not sure what link you meant, but if it was to the VOSD article, I read that some time ago. I did not see anything in that piece that linked the Sports Arena entertainment venue to segregation or “re-segregation” issues. If you saw that, then please share.

  4. As a 3rd generation San Diegan, I am always disappointed when I read comments from citizens who have a lack of vision or say we have to settle for anything second tier. San Diego has the population, wealth and economy to support a state of the art sports arena to be able to attract a future nba and or nhl team. Build it and I guarantee out of town owners will compete to move their team here . Affordable Housing is great too, but I don’t think it should be biggest driver to a project that will transform the area into a new amenity the entire region can enjoy and be a benefit with additional tax revenues the city needs to provide services elsewhere.

    1. I agree sir! Ron Roberts told me years ago of moving an NBA and NHL franchise here. As a candidate for SDCC D2 Midway District, I will settle for nothing less. Dan Smiechowski former Rockets fan! Worked with the “Big E.”

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