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San Diego Mayor backs Legends’ group for Sports Arena project

A consortium featuring venue operator Legends has been recommended to lead the multibillion-dollar San Diego Sports Arena redevelopment project by the city’s mayor and other influential officials.

The Midway Rising group, which also features housing partners Chelsea Investment Corporation and Zephyr, has been backed ahead of meetings scheduled for September when elected officials will nominate their pick of three contenders.

The Midway Rising proposal would feature a new 450,000 sq foot arena with capacity for 14,500-16,500 people and a 200-room hotel. There would also be 250,000 sq feet of retail, 4,250 new homes, more than 11 acres of park and open space along with a 9.4-acre public plaza.

Midway Rising has been nominated by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the city’s real estate department in preference to the Midway Village+ bid consisting of architectural firm Populous, venue developer Oak View Group (OVG) and entertainment group Live Nation. The third bid is HomeTownSD, which features ASM Global and Petco Park developer JMI Sports.

“I’m excited to announce that I am recommending an exclusive negotiation agreement with Midway Rising to redevelop the Sports Arena property,” said Todd Gloria, San Diego’s Mayor.

“After a transparent process in accordance with state regulations, I am confident Midway Rising will deliver on my vision of creating thousands of new affordable and middle-income homes, good-paying local jobs, and a new world-class arena and entertainment district.

“This project represents big city energy and I look forward to getting this done for the Midway community and our city.”

The Mayor’s office hailed Legends’ more than $30bn in project development experience including new arena development. Legends was founded as a joint venture of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys ownership teams and most recently the $60bn investment company, Sixth Street Partners, has taken on a majority interest to expand its growth. Legends worked with AECOM to build the $5bn SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Monarch Group’s HomeTownSD announced in July that ASM Global had joined its bid, which plans an arena that can host 8,000 to 10,000 sports fans and 10,000 concert goers. It would build 3,250 apartment homes, over 2,000 deed-restricted affordable and middle-income homes, and over 1,200 market-rate homes.

The third bid under consideration is Midway Village+,  which proposes two new venues in the district, including a 12,000-capacity SD Loyal soccer stadium and 15,000-capacity new arena. It would also build 4,252 new homes, 1,780 new affordable homes and 473 middle class homes.

A previously approved proposal from ASM Global and Brookfield Properties centred on a new arena, 2,100 housing units, an entertainment district and retail space, but this was rejected last year by the California Department of Housing and Community Development on the grounds that it violated the state’s Surplus Land Act concerning affordable housing.

In May, San Diego City Council voted to move forward with analysis of proposals from HometownSD, Midway Village+ and Midway Rising. Proposals from Neighborhood Next and Brookfield Properties – which featured ASM Global – were dismissed.

At the time, Councilmember Stephen Whitburn said that state housing officials had stressed the city must award the developer that proposes the most low-income affordable housing as part of their project. While Midway Rising proposed more than 2,000 affordable apartments, both rival bids have since increased the number of affordable dwellings in their respective plans.

Images: Midway Rising / Safdie Rabines Architects