San Diego County supervisors eye partnership with city on Sports Arena re-development – NBC 7 San Diego


The San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to explore a partnership with the city of San Diego on an enhanced infrastructure financing district at the Midway Rising/Sports Arena site.

Wednesday’s action by the supervisors does not commit the board to any deal, but rather directs county staff to explore the option of forming an financing district with the city.

EIFDs are a type of tax increment financing district cities and counties form to help fund economic development projects. Any EIFD at the Midway Rising site would only capture new property tax growth from the developed project site and not impact how existing property taxes are distributed to school districts, city and county programs.

“Agreeing to explore partnering with the city was the right thing to do for the existing residents of the Midway District, the future residents, and for the future of affordable housing in San Diego County,” Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said. “This is the first of many steps to determine our involvement, and I am pleased my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors see the opportunity that could exist with this vision for affordable housing in District 3.”

The Midway Rising group, which includes Zephyr Partners, Chelsea Investment Corp. and Legends Global, entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with San Diego in September 2022 to redevelop the 48-acre former Sports Arena site in the Midway District.

“We’re grateful to have the County of San Diego’s partnership in exploring the creation of a special district to fund public infrastructure in the area to improve traffic flow and enhance pedestrian safety, among other benefits,” according to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “Working together, we will have the opportunity to transform Midway into a vibrant neighborhood and support our region’s commitment to deliver 10,000 affordable homes in the next decade.”

Midway Rising is promising a new arena and 2,000 affordable homes among 4,250 total residential units, as well as 13 acres of parks, plazas and open spaces.

The board on Wednesday also directed staff to investigate the possibility of a Regional Housing Needs Assessment credit-sharing model for the affordable housing units.

“The city and county have the opportunity to support the investment in infrastructure needed to build a world-class entertainment destination with thousands of new affordable and market-rate homes that will ignite new growth and development in the entire Midway community,” said San Diego City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell.

On Friday, the city of San Diego’s Historical Resources Board voted to give Pechanga Arena — the current name of the 58-year-old Sports Arena — historical recognition. The venue was built in 1966 and has seen artists ranging from Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley to Justin Bieber and Shakira. Dozens of sports teams have used the arena as home field/ice/court since its construction, which came with its own set of public debate.

The site gutted much of the Frontier neighborhood, a racially integrated community consisting largely of people who moved to the city during World War II for shipbuilding and other wartime trades.

While the community was always intended to be temporary, it included “3,500 units with the aim of providing affordable housing for 15,000 defense workers, military veterans, and their families,” according to a city historical note. Critics derided the neighborhood as a “slum,” while its proponents said it provided needed affordable housing.

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