San Diego Sports Arena
3500 Sports Arena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110
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Pro hockey in the city of San Diego dates back to the 1948-1949 campaign, when the San Diego Skyhawks won the first Pacific Coast Hockey League championship. However, the glory was shortlived. The Skyhawks lasted only two seasons.
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The PCHL changed its name to the Western Hockey League in 1952, and it took 11 years before pro hockey returned to San Diego behind the efforts of Bob Breitbard, a San Diego sportsman. Acceptance of the franchise depended on Breitbard's construction of a suitable arena in San Diego.
Following unanimous acceptance by the PCHL league's directors, construction of the San Diego Sports Arena began. The franchise was granted for the 1966-1967 season and the $6.5 million arena was completed on schedule. It is the same arena the Gulls use today. The team nickname "Gulls" was selected from a write-in contest. Commercial artist Dick Thompson then created the club mascot, "Sandy Gull."
More than 315,000 fans attended Gulls games in that first campaign. Although the team never finished higher than third over their eight seasons of play in the WHL, many feel that the Gulls were the most successful team in the league - indeed, of any franchise outside the NHL.
The WHL and the Gulls ceased operations after the 1973-1974 season, but it wasn't long before hockey returned, this time for the 1974-1975 season in the form of the San Diego Mariners of the World Hockey Association. This vagabond franchise was once again purchased from the league, this time by Joseph Schwartz, who moved the club to San Diego. The Mariners finished in second place in the Western Division, defeating Toronto before losing to Houston. Attendance was steady, as the city embraced its new club, averaging 6,080 for the 1974-1975 season at the Sports Arena. Lacroix led the club with 147 points. In 1975-1976 however, defense collapsed, and the team fell to 36-38-6, and third in the Western. The Mariners made the playoffs, defeating Phoenix before losing to nemesis Houston. Schwartz however had defaulted on the team in January 1976. The Mariner players decided to continue playing nonetheless, for the good of the team, even though they were now volunteers. This paid off, as Ray Kroc purchased the club, and has his San Diego Padres management run it. The team had a winning season, but crowds were not as expected. The team lost to Winnipeg in the first round. Kroc sold the club to a Florida group planning to move it to Melbourne (Florida), but the team folded in summer 1977, as did Calgary and Phoenix. Had Kroc been patient, the team might have made the NHL in 1979. San Diego, still using the nickname Mariners, joined the Pacific Hockey League. The team name changed to Hawks in 1978-1979, the PHL's final season.
Information on this page is from The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association 1972-1979; by Scott Adam Surgent as written by Andrew Stiffler and Randy Schultz - January 1993
On June 13, 1998 - Scott P. Belfield writes: The WHL and San Diego Gulls folded after the 1973-74 season due to the league losing its largest venue as SDSA Operator Peter Graham brought in the WHA Mariners as prime tenant. And, the San Diego Skyhawks supposedly played for the PCHL Championship versus the Seattle Ironmen in 1944-45. I would love to hear if you know who won that series. I have added your URL as a link on my web pages. Thanks for providing the great information. Go Gulls !!!
Seating Layout Seating Capacity Full House (end stage) 14,400 Center Stage Boxing 16,100 Half House 8,900 Basketball 14,500 Ice Hockey 12,800 Amphitheater 5,450 Ice Show 13,000 Ice Capades Stage Show 12,000 In The Round 14,800 Tennis 14,500 Circus Center Stage Portable Chairs 1,670
September 24, 2009
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The San Diego Sports Arena is undergoing a $2.5 million upgrade. Among the scheduled improvements are the installation of 2,200 new seats in the first eight rows around the 15,000-seat venue, along with 80 LCD screens and new restrooms throughout the building. Set to open next month is a new, members-only VIP club (annual membership dues: $2,450), which will offer such perks as private parking, a separate entrance and bottle service. The arena's inner concourse will also be spruced up, with new lighting and other improvements. New risers will be installed to hold the 2,200 new seats. The current seats and risers date back to the arena's opening in 1966. Arena Group 2000 began operating the Sports Arena in 1992 and holds the lease on the building and the adjacent city-owned, 67-acre site it occupies until 2017. Last year, the group entered into a partnership with industry giant AEG Facilities - which now has a controlling interest in the arena - under the name AEG Management San Diego.