Midway Rising rendering
A rendering of the Midway Rising plan. Courtesy Safdie Rabines Architects

For decades, the iconic Sports Arena venue in the Midway neighborhood has provided amazing sports and entertainment memories for San Diegans. However, as the arena has deteriorated over time, the surrounding Midway community has stagnated.

Now, after rebooting the site’s redevelopment process late last year, Mayor Todd Gloria has announced his recommendation to move forward with one of three team finalists — Midway Rising.

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We wholeheartedly support Mayor Gloria’s recommendation of Midway Rising’s vision for the Sports Arena site for three important reasons:

  • Affordable Housing – Midway Rising will deliver 2,000 affordable homes, which is more than any other competing proposal.
  • A New Arena – Midway Rising’s proposal calls for a new, state-of-the-art 16,000-seat arena.
  • Labor Commitment – Midway Rising maintains strong labor agreements that will create thousands of new, good paying jobs for San Diego’s working families.

Comprised of affordable housing partner Chelsea Investment Corporation, arena developer Legends and market-rate developer Zephyr Partners, Midway Rising’s proposal is both ambitious in its offerings to support low-income families and is backed by proven, reputable players that have delivered time and again.

As the largest California-based affordable housing builder and headquartered in San Diego County, Chelsea has developed 73 different affordable communities across the region. What’s more, Chelsea has partnered with Father Joe’s Villages, a renowned local organization dedicated to ending homelessness, to help create onsite supportive housing for San Diego’s most vulnerable at the Sports Arena site.

Alongside Legends, the arena developer that delivered SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and The Star District in Dallas, and Zephyr, a prominent Encinitas-based mixed-use developer, we are confident that Mayor Gloria’s team selection is the right one for San Diego.  

Back in 2020, California’s Department of Housing and Community Development deemed the first attempt to redevelop the 48.5-acre city-owned parcel by the prior mayoral administration to likely be in violation of the state’s Surplus Land Act. Since that time, Gloria and the city’s director of real estate and airport management, Penny Maus, made a commitment to adhere to the surplus act, working together with the state every step of the way with respect to the site’s disposition. Together, with concurrence from the state, they have fulfilled that promise.

The city took an additional step in hiring Jones Lang LaSalle, a well-regarded and independent third-party real estate expert, to conduct further financial due diligence, carefully evaluating each of the three finalists’ Sports Arena site proposals and accompanying financial assumptions. JLL and the state both agreed with the city’s selection of Midway Rising as the right partner to bring their vision for the Midway District to life while simultaneously adhering to the state’s requirement of giving preference to the team offering the greatest amount of affordable housing.

In support of San Diego’s working families, Midway Rising has a labor accord in place to put San Diego’s skilled local workers first. Union jobs are critical and provide stable employment, financial security and a path to the middle class with livable wages and benefits. Redevelopment of the Midway District will provide jobs, training, apprenticeships and access to economic opportunity for all San Diegans.

Midway Rising will be union built and union operated, with 8,500 jobs to be created and $7 billion in economic impacts to the region. That is why Laborers International Union Local 89 — one of the largest, most diverse and politically active construction unions in the region — threw its full and exclusive support behind Midway Rising’s leading proposal.

After months of public hearings, independent analysis and regular updates to the state, the mayor has recognized that Midway Rising’s commitment to delivering the most affordable homes and creating good union jobs is unrivaled. And only Midway Rising’s full-size 16,000 seat arena will activate the enormous potential of the Midway District with new neighborhood improvements, new businesses and new entertainment options that all of San Diego can enjoy and be proud of.

We applaud Mayor Gloria for leading a process that was open, inclusive and methodical in its adherence to state law. And we urge the San Diego City Council to support the mayor’s recommendation during their hearings next month to begin negotiations with Midway Rising to shape a revitalized Midway District that not only elevates the surrounding neighborhood, but all of San Diego.

Valentine “Val” R. Macedo is the business manager and secretary treasurer for Laborers International Union of North America Local 89, representing 4,000 skilled union construction laborers and their families in San Diego County. Deacon Jim Vargas is the president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest homeless services provider, and is a deacon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego serving the community of Mary, Star of the Sea in La Jolla.