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“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.

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Jay Allen Sanford Sept. 16, 2009 @ 12:40 p.m.

More on Club 3500: Member perks will include VIP parking, a VIP entrance, and its own “Exclusive men’s and women’s rest rooms, with sound in them, new paint, mirrors, sinks, and counters, and stalls,” according to Hahn.

“The Arena Club in the past always had to utilize the rest rooms that are also available to anybody in [sections] A, B or C on the floor.”

Hahn is also outfitting Club 3500 with Arena memorabilia from the venue's glory years. “Few houses have this kind of history,” he says. “A lot of people saw their first concert here. We’ll have over 120 pictures showing the actual [Sports Arena] history, like Pink Floyd in ‘74, or the Stones in ’72. I’ve got a great shot of Elton John, one of Elvis in ‘73 or ‘76, and I think a Led Zeppelin ‘75 shot. We have a great photo of James Brown here in 1967, and one of John Denver in the mid-seventies, which I particularly like.”

He feels the Arena itself will once again host the top touring acts, thanks in part to the renovation but also due to the booking clout wielded by their new majority-owner/partner.

AEG operates or is involved with around a hundred arena facilities worldwide, though Hahn notes “We’re an open building. So, whether it’s Live Nation or AEG or anyone else, all shows are not only welcome but encouraged here.”

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 17, 2009 @ 12:29 p.m.

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 if Hahn "worked his way up" at the Sport Arena-please! Don't leave out that this trust funder is Ernest "Ernie" Hahn's son.

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EricHansen7777 Sept. 19, 2009 @ 5:10 a.m.

I worked at the arena for 13 years and met Ernie when he started at the building. I used to work in clean up and changeovers. When he started they had him work all departments including doing changeovers with us and I also saw him doing janitorial, ticket taking, and ushering for building. He started off as an event coordinator later was the Business Manager and then became the GM. Not sure if SurfPuppy 619 knows Ernie "as if" I don't think that Ernie would have been working 90 plus hours then and cleaning up after people's crap and messes until 6 in the morning if he was some "trust funder" as you allude. I have met plenty of those type of people surf puppy 619. Possibly you? Also Met Ernie's dad Ron who was the President of the Arena Group at the Sports Arena, Ernest Hahn's son. Ernie is Ernest's grandson. Puppy may want to get those facts right. "As if" Puppy really even knows what he or she is talking about....typical gotta put in something negative even though I do not know the person that I am commenting about or any of the facts....nice surfpuppy

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