National City Wants Arena

The San Diego suburb of National City recently lost out on a bid to bring the San Diego Chargers to town but that isn’t stopping the city from moving forward with plans to build a new venue to replace San Diego Sports Arena.

The cost of a new football stadium was estimated by mayor Ron Morrison as more than $800 million, according to the San Diego Business Journal. But now the city is focused on a new arena that would house a pro basketball team – a project the mayor estimated to cost $250 million.

"The ipayOne Center [The Sports Arena’s former name] doesn’t have much of a life left, San Diego wants the property back, and with the arena’s size, it would be much easier to finance," Morrison told the Journal.

The mayor said because the site wasn’t large enough to manage the commercial or residential development needed to fund the stadium, the cooperation of other cities was essential. But time constraints made this difficult, according to Morrison.

National City would benefit from a large indoor concert venue, which would find a niche among the market’s 19,400-capacity Coors Amphitheatre and other, smaller venues, he added. The first challenge is securing a pro roundball franchise.

The Journal reported that lining up a team may be a problem for the city because San Diego has already lost two teams – the Clippers and, in 1971, the Rockets. Many doubt the National Basketball Association would give the city a third try. The area hasn’t had the best luck with minor league franchises either.

The mayor remained optimistic about the arena and told the Journal that current demographics suggest things would be different if the NBA came back.

Morrison said for two years city officials have been in discussions with the arena operator and its owners, Ron and Ernie Hahn, about a new facility.

With National City out, football’s Chargers are now up for grabs. Chula Vista, Calif., and Oceanside, Calif., have expressed interest in being host cities.

The Chargers’ lease with San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium allows the team to move into a new facility after the 2008 season ends.