Pechanga Arena is home to four sports franchises including the Gulls, the sixth professional hockey team there, as well as the San Diego Sockers, San Diego Seals, and San Diego Strike Force. / Photo by Thomas Melville
The group that owns the San Diego Gulls minor hockey league team, Anaheim Arena Management (AAM), has been selected by the City of San Diego to replace Pechanga Arena’s current operator, Arena Group 2000, as arena manager following a request for proposals (RFP) process.
“From the outset of this process, our goal was to improve the experience for the arena’s users and guests, enhance the volume and quality of programming and increase revenue for San Diego taxpayers,” said Tim Ryan, president/CEO of AAM.
“We are excited that the review panel agreed with this vision and selected our bid. We look forward to working collaboratively with the city staff to finalize an agreement that will achieve all of this plus deliver more value for the City of San Diego and its residents,” Ryan said.
Spokesperson Craig Benedetto noted AAM is a subsidiary of H&S Ventures, which is the family office of Henry Samueli of Orange County, who owns the NHL Anaheim Ducks and the Gulls.
“This kicks off negotiation of a contract with the City, and that contract will be brought back to the City Council for approval,” Benedetto said.
“The lease still needs to be approved by council committee and the full council, which could happen toward the end of the year,” said Arian Collins, supervising City spokesperson.
Arena Group 2000 said it intends to challenge the proposed arena management change.
“With only three years left to the building’s life as defined through the RFP process, we are the operator that has invested over $30 million into this building making our 53-year-old arena a top 10 arena in the world with 10,000 to 15,000 seating capacity,” said Rick Schloss, Arena 2000 spokesman.
“We plan to defend our position to be the arena operator as we have for the last 28 years, as this lease still needs to be negotiated with the City and ratified through the City Council. Through this RFP process, over 450 local groups and businesses have supported us. Our team is extremely proud of our accomplishments,” Schloss said.
The Gulls are owned by Henry and Susan Samueli. Henry Samueli is a businessman, engineer and philanthropist who co-founded Broadcom Corp. and is its board chairman. He is a professor on leave of absence in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UCLA. He is a named inventor in 75 U.S. patents.
Pechanga Arena is home to four sports franchises including the Gulls, the sixth professional hockey team there, as well as the San Diego Sockers, San Diego Seals, and San Diego Strike Force. The arena holds 125 events welcoming 750,000 visitors annually.
The original Sports Arena was built in 1966 by Robert Breitbard, a local football hero who played for Hoover High School and San Diego State, for $6.4 million.
In November 2016, Sports Arena celebrated 50 years of bringing live entertainment to San Diego.
Over the years, the venue hosted a heavyweight boxing championship fight between Muhammed Ali and Ken Norton, as well as numerous concerts by high-profile musicians and bands.
Valley View Casino's naming rights expired Nov. 30, 2018, leaving the arena without an official name. The City Council announced on Dec. 4, 2018, that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, owners of the Pechanga Resort & Casino win Temecula in Riverside County, had acquired for $400,000 per year the naming rights to the arena, officially renaming it Pechanga Arena. The agreement runs through May 2020.