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The new mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria is looking to build an arena in town to replace the city’s 54-year-old facility. In November, San Diego voters approved a measure that could allow the construction of an arena near the city’s waterfront. Last August, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that Brookfield Housing and ASM Global were chosen to build an entertainment district in the Midway area. Building a sports arena, along thousands of housing units, park space and retail businesses is part of an area development plan that was proposed by the former mayor. With the passage of a referendum that changed height restrictions for buildings by the waterfront last November, a path has been cleared to build an arena. But to quote an old movie tagline, in Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come,” might not work in enticing the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League to put a team to San Diego. Buildings need main tenants such as an NBA or an NHL team to fill dates. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the sports business world. No one knows what the business will look like when the COVID-19 pandemic finally is contained.
National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver has alluded to the possibility of his business adding franchises sometime in the future. There are cities that would be far ahead of San Diego in an expansion process. Seattle now has an NBA state-of-the-art arena along with a substantial corporate market and a decent television footprint, the three needed ingredients for a successful franchise. There are other contenders, Las Vegas, Louisville, Kansas City, possibly Vancouver, Nashville to name a few places. Each one of those areas has some negatives to overcome. San Diego has a lot of work to do to get in the game.