“Four developers last week submitted detailed plans for how they each envision transforming the area and replacing the 54-year-old arena with a modern version,” says a June 17 Union-Tribune account.
More Moores wheels and deals
Who will be the lucky bidder to turn the run-down, city-owned San Diego Sports Arena and dilapidated environs into a glitzy and lucrative forest of new high-rises? Judging by a flurry of reports emanating from city hall, the public will be the last to know. “Four developers last week submitted detailed plans for how they each envision transforming the area and replacing the 54-year-old arena with a modern version,” says a June 17 Union-Tribune account. But details, including the identities of the principals, remain top secret. “City officials are declining to reveal the names of the developers or the proposals they submitted until next month.” Offers the paper: “That is standard practice when the city issues requests for proposals, which require developers to submit sensitive and proprietary information about their finances.”
Billionaire Henry Samueli wants to “improve the experience for... users and guests” at the Sports Arena
Whether or not that’s true, some hints have already shown up in disclosure statements filed by two of the city’s most influential and controversial lobbying firms. California Strategies & Advocacy, LLC reported in a May 30 filing that it’s working for H&S Ventures regarding “improvement of Pechanga Arena/Sports Arena San Diego located at 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., or entitlement of a facility in the San Diego region to host the San Diego Gulls, an American Hockey League team.”
As noted here last August, H&S is one of the many holding companies for Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli, owner of the Anaheim Ducks, along with the San Diego franchise. At the time, the U-T reported that H&S, operating as Anaheim Arena Management, had the inside track to take over the sports arena lease this May. “From the outset of this process, our goal was to improve the experience for the arena’s users and guests, enhance the volume and quality of programming and increase revenue for San Diego taxpayers,”
Tim Ryan, chief executive of Anaheim Arena Management, was quoted as saying, “We are excited that the selection panel agreed with this vision and selected our bid.” But the murky deal somehow evaporated behind the closed doors of city hall without further explanation to the public.
H&S rival AEG Management, the incumbent operator of the venue, is also believed to be interested in some kind of development arrangement. The L.A-based outfit, owned by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, is using lobbyist Southwest Strategies, like California Strategies a heavy-giver to city politicos, to persuade the mayor and council to grant a “short term lease extension for the Sports Arena facility,” according to an April 4 filing covering the first three months of this year. Southwest picked up a $9000 fee from AEG for its trouble, per the document. Last year alone, Southwest chief Chris Wahl kicked in $1125 to city council Democrat Barbara Bry, running for mayor against Assembly Democrat Todd Gloria, who got $2300 from Wahl. Republican councilman Scott Sherman picked up $1150 for his ultimately failed mayoral campaign. City Attorney Mara Elliott got the same for her 2020 reelection bid. Public release of the names of sports arena hopefuls by GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer is not expected until July, giving the would-be developers and their lobbyists time for more closed-door maneuvering.
A list of “prospective bidders” posted online by the city shows neither AEG nor H&S, but does contain several intriguing names, including that of JMI Realty, controlled by ex-Padres owner John Moores. A master of squeezing sweetheart deals from local government, including downtown’s tax-subsidized Petco Park, Moores’s latest foray has been as political financier of San Diego State’s takeover of city-owned Qualcomm stadium.
Steve Padilla beat COVID-19, now he’s back on the rubber chicken circuit.
Steve Padilla, the Chula Vista city council Democrat and California state Coastal Commission chairman who became an early victim of COVID-19 after developing symptoms at a March commission meeting in Santa Cruz, is returning to the local rubber-chicken circuit in a virtual format. Billed as a “conversation and fundraiser with Ben Hueso for County Supervisor, 2020,” a Zoom link to the online event will be “provided at RSVP.”...inewsource, the non-profit online reporting outfit tied to San Diego State University and the school’s raft of developer donors, is looking for a chief revenue officer, thanks to a grant from the American Journalism Project. Reporters need not apply. “One of the most unique and exciting aspects of AJP’s support is that the funding is directed for business operations — investing in staff and resources to help scale the organization and build our revenue base,” says a help-wanted announcement on LinkedIn. “With AJP’s support, the inewsource budget will grow from our current $1.4M to $2.6M annually, based on progress towards our milestones.”
The job notice adds that, “with philanthropic support as the highest priority, this position will carry a portfolio of major and principal gift prospects and provide critical support to all other members of the revenue team. inewsource has been quite successful in raising its current $1.4M budget through individual memberships and major gifts. The CRO’s challenge will be to expand our base of traditional funding sources by creating new and innovative revenue streams through leadership in marketing and strategic partnerships.” Among funders of the American Journalism Project, according to its website, is Facebook.