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Oceanside Approves Permit for Indoor Arena

The city of Oceanside – and all of North County – will soon have its own indoor sports arena.

A conditional use permit for the Arena Califino was just approved by the city council, according to Jonathan Borrego, deputy city manager and development service director for the city of Oceanside. At 171,291 square feet in size, the venue will be able to seat 6,367 people during sporting events and 7,922 guests during concerts, added Leslee Gaul, president of Visit Oceanside. Six hundred and eighteen parking spaces would be added on 7.2 acres next to the arena site as part of the El Corazon Specifc Plan.

In the works for roughly two years, the Arena Califino is set to be the new home of the San Diego Sockers, the professional indoor soccer franchise. To be located at the 465-acre El Corazon Park, the team’s representatives and the city’s planning committee are next hoping to negotiate with San Diego-based Sudberry Properties, the park’s developers, to lease or buy the piece of land the arena will sit on, said Borrego. If a deal is reached, hopefully no later than May or April, construction on Arena Califino will start by summer, he said, with a completion timeline of 18 months.

Potential Economic Impact

While the financial effects of the arena were not available as of press time, the belief is it will have a sizable economic impact on the city and provide hundreds of jobs to the local community. Eventually, Oceanside will also benefit from hotel room taxes, sales tax revenue and other business generated by events hosted at the venue.

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“There are no other indoor sports arenas of this size in North County – or San Diego altogether,” said Borrego. “I would say, the closest sized venue that I’m aware of is the Toyota Arena in the city of Ontario – that is the closest one and of comparable size.”

Carlsbad has an ice hockey rink called Icetown Carlsbad, said Gaul of Visit Oceanside, and there’s also the Del Mar Fairgrounds, although there is no sports arena there, she clarified.

This is what makes this such a thrilling venture for the city of Oceanside, said Gaul. In fact, in anticipation of the new structure, Visit Oceanside transitioned its sport department into a sports commission, she said, in preparation of the expected sports events to come.

Sports Tourism

“We are excited to have this sports arena and partnership,” she said. “Sports tourism is an important market for the city of Oceanside. We don’t have a convention center, but to have a sporting venue helps us add room nights and revenue during the off season and not just sit on summer months.”

As previously mentioned, the Arena Califino will be home to the San Diego Sockers, which now play at the Pechanga Arena. But it will also provide other multi-use opportunities, said Gaul, including converting into an ice hockey arena, a professional basketball arena, a concert venue and a space equipped to host trade shows.

“Just to have the flexibility to have something that size and of that caliber to program throughout the year is going to be such an exciting resource for us,” she said.

What’s Next?

The first step in getting the project going was figuring out whether or not the arena was allowed within the specific planning area in el Corazon Park, said Borrego. The city had to change the zoning rules to allow an arena to be built on the site, he said. Now that the permit has been signed, Borrego said the next step will be to work with Sudberry Properties on leasing or selling some of the park’s land.

It is believed the Arena Califino borrows its name from Califino Tequila, based in Carlsbad. Califino Tequila is owned by Phil Salvagio, who is also coach and owner of the San Diego Sockers – and the main proponent for the arena.

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