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Sports Arena Celebrates 50 Years, Looks At Downtown Expansion

The venue has hosted thousands of concerts and sporting events since opening in 1966. But owners say it's time for an upgrade.

The Valley View Casino Center, or Sports Arena, has been home to professional basketball, hockey, and soccer teams for the past 50 years.

The arena, located in the Midway District, has also hosted some of the biggest names in music, from Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, even Justin Bieber in 2013.

Now, the arena’s management says it's time to start thinking bigger. They're looking for a new venue — in downtown.

Valley View Casino Center General Manager Ernie Hahn said a downtown arena would be more valuable than a Chargers stadium.

“The arena is very different than the stadium and other areas because it really will do 200 events a year and that really does fill hotel rooms," Hahn said. "It really does generate a lot for the economy down there.”

Hahn said he wants the Chargers to stay, but he's looking at all the options. He said an area in downtown would be hard to pass up.

“This an iconic building, we love it. I’ve been here half of my life and absolutely love it. It’s a great building," Hahn said of the existing Sports Arena. "But the thought and idea of a new building is exciting for everybody.”

Hahn and partner AEG have had discussions with the city of San Diego. He estimates a downtown arena could cost $350 to $450 million and would seat around 17,000 fans.

The Chargers have tried for years to build a new stadium, and Hahn realizes it could take time.

"There's a real opportunity to talk about a new area and what it could mean to San Diego," he said. "New arenas, stadiums, even if we started talking about them now, they're not going to happen for another five or six years."

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