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Valley View Casino Center Ponders Future As Midway District Community Plan Moves Ahead

An exterior view of San Diego's Valley View Casino Center, Nov. 16, 2016.

Credit: Matt Hoffman

Above: An exterior view of San Diego's Valley View Casino Center, Nov. 16, 2016.

The Midway/Pacific Highway Community Plan calls for the redevelopment of the land where Valley View Casino Center, formerly known as the Sports Arena, sits.

"That site would encompass as broad a use as possible," said the city of San Diego's Real Estate Assets Director Cybele Thompson. "With or without a sports arena — residential, retail, entertainment to allow for a lot of different uses on that site."

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Valley View Casino Manager Ernie Hahn said despite the push for redevelopment, he is trying to ink a three-year extension with the city to keep the arena open past 2020.

"We’ve got events right now that we want to book past May of 2020 right now that are kind of on the stand down now because technically our lease ends in a year and a half," Hahn said.

Hahn said until a new arena is built, he hopes the 52-year-old sports arena stays open.

"We’re in negotiations with the city, working with the city to get to that point to get that three-year extension plus," Hahn said. "Knowing that the view is that this building has got to kind of stay here and be here serving the community."

Hahn said the arena holds around 40 concerts a year. Three years ago it became the home for the San Diego Gulls hockey team, which Hahn says has paid off.

"Big attendance numbers," he said. "Over 300,000 people per year."

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Starting this year the arena will be home to a professional lacrosse team — the San Diego Seals. Hahn said with long-term partners a new arena is now more possible than ever.

"It’s exciting, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of money," Hahn said. "But this is the first time ever that I can look at the Gulls ownership, look at AEG and their ownership , and I can look at the Seals and their ownership. You know you’ve got three different billionaires there represented alone, and they all have a committed, vested interest in San Diego."

But with a 30-foot height limit for buildings in the Midway District, Hahn said a new arena would likely go downtown or in Mission Valley. Regardless, Hahn said he is anxious and excited for the future.

KPBS reached out to the city asking about lease negotiations for the arena but a spokesman declined to comment.

Video by Roland Lizarondo

The Valley View Casino Center sits in the middle of a neighborhood that could see some major changes after an update was passed to the Midway/Pacific Highway Community Plan.

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