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Friday, August 1, 2008

San Diego's Sports Arena - History

The roar of 11,682 professional hockey fans gave birth to San Diego Sports Arena (formerly, the San Diego International Sports Center) on November 17, 1966, as the San Diego Gulls-then of the Western Hockey League-won their home opener in a 4-to-1 victory against the Seattle Totems.

Since its opening, the facility has indeed hosted many amateur and professional athletes and teams, including but not limited to: the San Diego Rockets, San Diego Clippers, 10-time Major Indoor Soccer League Champion San Diego Sockers, and the 5-time Taylor Cup Champion San Diego Gulls. The Center has also played host to some of the most memorable moments in sports history, including the infamous 1973 Muhammad Ali versus Ken Norton bout, in which local boxer Norton defeated Ali by split decision to become world champion of boxing.

Irish miler Aemonn Coghlin, much to the amazement of the sports world, shattered the world record for the indoor mile at the Center in 1979 and again in 1981. The historic photo of Coghlin crossing the finish line appeared throughout the world on the cover of Sports Illustrated and other publications. Coghlin's world indoor record time set in 1981 remains unbeaten today.

Thanks to the vision and commitment of a man named Robert Breitbard, a football hero at Hoover High and San Diego State University, the Center was built for a modest $6.4 million with the purpose of bringing professional sports to the San Diego region.

For more than three decades, San Diego Sports Arena has entertained millions of music enthusiasts by bringing the biggest and brightest artists to Southern California audiences.

For every artist and every performance, fascinating behind-the-scenes stories exist for those willing to dig deep enough into the history of the facility. Some stories have been told and some remain the property of those who were there to witness them firsthand.

Like the time when Elvis Presley performed at the Center in 1970 and met a security guard working backstage who, as it turns out, hailed from Elvis's hometown. They shared a few laughs and Elvis went o to perform to a full house and leave town. The next day, much to the amazement of the security guard and the entire Arens staff, a brand new Cadillac was delivered to the security guard-the King's newfound, hometown friend-compliments of the King himself, Elvis Presley!

When the Center celebrated its 35th birthday in 2002, the changes and improvements continued, including completion of the new color theme for each entrance concession stand, new condiment service areas, renovation of the Grille and successful installation of the World-Famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park interactive display. The work will continue until Center management feels there is no room for improvement in everything that we do for our guests. Although one of the oldest facilities of its kind in San Diego, the Center has definitely earned its title as "San Diego's Place for Entertainment!"



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