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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Pechanga Arena - San Diego Seals

Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Pechanga Arena 3500 Sports Arena Blvd San Diego, CA 92110

Year Opened: 1966 Capacity: 12,920

Seals Lax

The San Diego Seals are one of the newer members in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) beginning play in the 2018-2019 season. They have been successful, making it to the West Division semi-finals their first season. So far in this early part of the 2021-2022 season, they are continuing their winning ways.

The Seals play their home games at Pechanga Arena in the Midway District of San Diego, CA. Pechanga Arena hosts three other sports teams: San Diego Gulls (AHL hockey), San Diego Sockers (MASL indoor soccer), and San Diego Strike Force (AFL indoor football). It is also home to a variety of other entertainment such as concerts, Disney on Ice, boxing events, Harlem Globetrotters, and more. A busy and popular Kobey’s Swap Meet is held every weekend in the parking lot of the arena.

Built in 1966, the arena is set up to be functional; not the whiz-bang marvels built these days for sports facilities. It serves the Seals well from a fan perspective.

Food & Beverage 2

The arena has a surprisingly vast number and variety of concessions, but only a few are open for Seals games. It is disappointing, though understandable, as the lacrosse team does not draw as many fans as the hockey team or concerts. Be sure to walk the entire concourse to find the open concession stands and carts.

Rockin Baja Lobster sells lobster bites and fries, tacos, burritos, and a variety of fries ($7 – $18). Melissa’s Field of Greens offers a healthier option with Caesar or Southwestern salads ($15.25). Phillys & Fries has Philly cheesesteaks, nachos, fries ($7 – $13.50). Arena Grill has the staples of hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, nachos, vegan burgers, and sausages ($7 – $14.25).

The Elysian Brewing is open, charging a hefty $16.25 for a beer. A cocktail stand is open if other alcoholic beverages are your choice of drink. The Stella Artois Lounge is a premium entertainment area available for rent and/or membership and includes a posh bar and other VIP features.

One thing missing at the arena is tables to eat any purchased food. Instead, fans bring their refreshments to their seats.

Atmosphere 4

Although old, the arena serves the lacrosse team very well.

Two levels of average width cushioned seats but no cup holders make up the seating. Fans enter the middle of the seating area and walk up or down to their seats. The second level is about 15 steps up. No handrails are available for the top nine rows in the lower level. Those uneasy with steps should get seats in row nine as that’s the top row when walking in. Handicapped and wheelchair seating is available along the inner walkway. Every seat has a decent view of the action on the field.

Though the arena does not have suites, it does offer the Seals Cove, a premium field-level seating choice behind one of the goals with high-top tables and exclusive food and beverage stations.

It’s a little chilly. Bring a sweatshirt and/or jacket.

A suitably sized scoreboard hangs above center court. It shows the game action video, the score, shots on goal, time remaining, and quarter. Closed captioning is not available. At the game of this review, I noticed many delayed tv timeouts which I found annoying and halted the flow of the game.

Pechanga Arena Scoreboard, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

The Seals have an impressive pyrotechnic opening and introduction. As with all box lacrosse contests, constant music is played to pump the crowd. When an opposing player goes to the penalty box (the sin bin), the announcer cleverly calls “ makes the walk of shame…shame…shame…” The crowd is also entertained by a dance team and Salty – a mascot dressed as a seal.

Neighborhood 4

The area directly surrounding the rink is bland. But within just one to three miles, plenty of choices for eating, drinking, and merriment are available.

Ocean Beach Pier is just three miles from the venue and is where visitors can watch the surfers (or surf themselves), walk along the beach, go swimming or sunbathing in the warmer months. Or, stroll the neighborhood shops, restaurants, and brewpubs. It’s a great place to visit. Sea World San Diego is a little over two miles and Historic Old Town is just a mile, both worth visiting.

A plethora of places to eat and drink are within a few miles. We recommend the Long Story Irish Pub (though finding parking may be difficult), Euphoria XIX Grill (family-owned and operated), and Cocino de Barrio (Mexican). Within walking distance of the arena are staples like Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, Broken Yolk, and Buffalo Wild Wings (though we do not recommend this Broken Yolk and BWW).

For the hop head, plenty of breweries are close by: Modern Times Brewery, Deft Brewing (European style brews), and if visiting Ocean Beach check out Ocean Beach Brewery (serves food) or Kilowatt Brewing. Many, many more than those are within five miles of the rink.

A Wyndham Garden Inn is across the street from Pechanga Arena and a Ramada Inn is a block and a half away. I stayed at the Ramada. Though basic, it is clean and safe. Many more hotels in a variety of price ranges are in the area so pick your preference.

Sports fans can attend other games in the area during hockey season including the AHL Gulls, MASL Sockers, and during the latter part of the season, the AFL Strike Force. The University of San Diego is two to three miles from the arena so you may be able to catch a Toreros baseball, basketball, football, or other athletic games.

Fans 3

There’s an energy in the crowd and you just can’t help getting excited when the Seals score a goal.

Lots of families, kids, and school lacrosse teams are in attendance. Plenty of purple, yellow, and black (the Seals’ colors) are seen in the crowd. The fans certainly don’t follow lax etiquette as they leave and enter during play action.

At the game of this review, the lower level was about 65% – 70% full. The average attendance in their first season (2019) was 7,800 per game. It dropped to 4,800 in the shortened 2020 season and so far in 2021-2022, the average attendance is around 5,600 per game. This puts the team in the mid to bottom half of the NLL attendance ranking.

Access 4

Getting to the arena is easy. It is right off the I-8 and I-5 Interstates in the Midway District of San Diego, a tad over a mile from Old Town San Diego and a little over three miles from the San Diego Airport. Plenty of parking is available in lots surrounding the venue for $15. The box office is on the north side of the building (Kurtz Street side). ADA parking is on the north side of the arena. Only the north and east entrances are open for lacrosse games.

Public transportation is available but can take close to an hour with multiple changes if coming from the airport. Check the San Diego MTS trip planner to see if this is an option from where you are. If not, Uber and Lyft drop off and pick up is on the south side of the venue near the gas station and Chick-fil-A.

Attendees must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and their ID prior to entry. Even with that, it is easy and painless to get through the checks, security and scanning of the ticket. Clear 12” x 6” x 12” stadium sports bags are allowed. Fans can walk the entire concourse. The concourse can get crowded between periods and after the game when a full crowd is on hand.

Tickets are only available through AXS – an online ticket provider. Fans purchasing tickets at the box office must download the AXS app to their phone to get their tickets. Hard copy tickets options are not offered.

Return on Investment 3

Seals box lacrosse games are fun and worth the sports dollar investment. We recommend eating or drinking before heading to the game as concession prices are high.

Tickets run $15 (upper end level) – $90 (on the glass). A three-game ticket package (a hat trick) offers a 20% discount and is a good deal if planning on seeing more than one match a season.

Parking is $15. If time and your location permit, consider using public transportation.

Extras 2

Photos on the concourse walls portray famous events and entertainers who performed at Pechanga Arena over the years. It is definitely worth the effort to stroll the concourse looking at and reviewing these historic events performed here.

The opening introductions with its shooting fire flames as the players take the field is worth an extra mention.

Final Thoughts

The venue has a lot of history on display and is a throwback to an earlier time when arenas were designed to be functional fan facilities. Box lacrosse is a fun, exciting game to watch and a San Diego Seals game exceeds that sports enjoyment pleasure.

Check out In Lacrosse We Trust for all lacrosse coverage.

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