San Diego Sports Arena / Valley View Casino Center pt. 1 - San Diego, California
Ballparks, Arenas and Stadiums > San Diego Sports Arena / Valley View Casino Center pt. 1 - San Diego, California
Music - Street Player by Chicago

Photographed in 1987, October of 1988 and May of 2014.

Valley View Casino Center - Opened November 17, 1966 and still in use. Formerly known as the San Diego International Sports Center (1966-1970) The San Diego Sports Arena (1970-2004 and 2007-2010) and the iPay One Center (2004-2007)...

Location - 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego, California

Tenants - The major tenants included the San Diego Gulls of the WHL (1966-1974) The San Diego Gulls IHL and ECHL (1990-2006) The San Diego Rockets of the NBA (1967-1971) The San Diego Clippers of the NBA (1978-1984) The San Diego Mariners of the WHA (1974-1977) The San Diego Conquistadors of the ABA (1974-1975) The San Diego Sails of the ABA (1975) San Diego State Aztecs basketball (1966 -1997) and the San Diego Sockers of the NASL/MISL (1980-1996).

The Sports Arena sits north of the airport by Interstate 5 and interstate 8. Pretty much non discript 60's arena. The arena has had its share of memorable events. From the NBA and the Rockets to IHL hockey and its longest tenant, the San DIego Gulls. The arena also saw the 1971 NBA all star game and the 1975 NCAA men's final 4. In that Final 4 game, the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, won his last NCAA title and game. The legendary coach retired from coaching at UCLA after that game. Wilt Chamberlain had a bizarre career there as "player coach" of the San Diego Q's of the ABA. Law suits prevented Wilt from ever playing for the Q's, so he ended up being somewhat of a coach. He did skip a game to attend an autograph session. The Q's became the Sails in 1975 and folded in November of that year.

The WHA came to San Diego in 1974 as the relocated New York Raiders / Golden Blades / New Jersey Knights became the San Diego Mariners. Led by Harry Howell and Andre Lacroix, the Mariners made the playoffs all 3 years they were in San Diego. However, the team was not part of the WHA / NHL merger and quietly folded in 1977.

The San Diego State Aztecs played quite a few home games at the arena from 1966 thru 1997. Tony Gwynn, the hall of fame outfielder from the San Diego Padres, was a point guard for SDSU and played at the arena. The team moved to a permanent home on campus in 1997 when the Viejas Arena opened.

The arena has had it's share of concerts over the last 40 plus years. Jimi Hendrix recorded his jam version of "Red House" here in 1969. The gatefold shot for Kiss Alive II was photographed here. Dio recorded the live album intermission here. Rock bands from Zeppelin to Boston have all played here. Now, most of the big acts go to Viejas on the campus of San Diego State.

Capacity for the arena was never more than 16,000. Arena football was at 12,000 while hockey is at 12,900 and basketball is at 14,500. Concerts will seat close to 15,000.

The arena is a product of the 60's. Pretty much a bare bones arena (a la it's sister up the 5, the L.A. Sports Arena) There are no luxury suites and the concessions are minimal. The concourse runs around the outside of the seating bowl, much like the L.A. Sports Arena.

All in all, the arena is still quite busy. From circuses to boxing to concerts to the NBA exhibition games, San Diegans still show up. The arena is close to the airport, about 3 miles south, old town (about a mile east) the beaches, Petco park and Qualcomm.

The hockey photos I shot were in October of 1988 during an exhibition game between the Calgary Flames and the St. Louis Blues.

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The exterior from 1987.


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An exhibiton game between Calgary and St. Louis, October 1988.


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The arena as it looks today, May 2014. Not much has changed.


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