“We’re putting two and a half million dollars into the building,” says Ernie Hahn, general manager of the Sports Arena for the past 13 years. “It’s been a year since AEG Live became a majority-owner partner, and since there’s no new arena being built for a while in San Diego, AEG is modernizing the facility with creature comforts like LCD TV screens, redoing the entrances and the outer concourse, paint and colors and lighting, and all-new lower-level seats. The eight rows of riser seats at the arena that have been here since day one are all getting replaced [with] 2200 state-of-the-art seats.”
Construction has also begun on “a special club for our sponsors and club-seat holders” in the old Arena Club space, set to open later this year. Club 3500 (the facility’s address) will be 6500 square feet, with a 350-person capacity accessed via membership only. “When you walk in,” says Hahn, “it’s going to feel like a downtown club — really swank, hip, sophisticated. It’ll be close to a dedicated seating section at stage right, which will be put aside for our club members.”
Annual membership is $2450, with the option to purchase up to four “dedicated seating” tickets for events you want to attend.
The 42-year-old Hahn grew up locally, with parents who were San Diego Mariners hockey season ticket holders in the ’70s (“Lower level one, two seats on the end, across from the visiting penalty box”). He began at the facility as an event coordinator in June of 1991.
As for selling naming rights to the building after a short-lived stint as the iPayOne Center, Hahn says, “Through the global partnerships division of AEG, we’re working with a lot of sponsors, some who just recently stepped up, and we’re in discussions with a couple who will hopefully bid or ultimately come in as a naming-rights partner.”
AEG sold naming rights for Berlin’s 02 Arena last year for $37.5 million.