San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena

San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena



3.4/5 Pros

  • Centrally located
  • Good ticket situation for ice hockey
  • Comfortable seating
  • Good parking situation Cons

  • Old 1960's venue
  • Limited Support by the fans

Doing the December 2023 and January 2024 trip to the US West Coast with my wife and a very similar itinerary compared to the wedding trip we did ten years before. However, we focused on very different aspects while visiting the different cities. The biggest difference in focus was likely San Diego, where we more or less just had a short visit to Downtown as well as visited the two parts of San Diego Zoo in 2013. In 2023, we had more time in the Southwest Californian city – and also had time to watch an AHL ice hockey match on 23rd December 2023. Here are my impressions of the home match of the San Diego Gulls hosting the Tuscon Roadrunners at their own Pechanga Arena


Pechanga Arena – Location & Traffic

The Pechanga is used for ice hockey / the San Diego Gulls, the lacrosse team San Diego Seals, the indoor soccer San Diego Sockers and several other sports and entertainment events. The area is located at Sports Arena Blvd, roughly between Sea Wolrd San Diego and San Diego Old Town. The area is rather commercial with major stores like Target or The Home Depot around. There are also a few hotels in the area.

You might use the San Diego Metro and walk from the closest station, San Diego – Old Town. However, you will likely drive to the arena. Parking is 15 USD. Season ticket holders seem to have free parking.


San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena – Arena & Ticket Situation

Pechanga Arena is is a rather old venue. It is used since November 1966. The San Diego Gulls hosted the opening match already. The Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned venue comes with a capacity between 12,920 (ice hockey) and 16,100 (boxing and similar events) spectators. Since December 2018, the venue is called Pechanga Arena, it also had some name sports and neutral names before. Not that surprisingly, the arena overall feels a bit of old-fashioned. Nonetheless, the San Diego Gulls try to turn the venue into a friendly atmosphere. We had seats behind one of the goals, which overall felt rather comfortable.

I typically try to get ticket at the first day of sale, just to have a safe trip planning. This would have been absolutely unnecessary for the match two days before Christmas Day 2023. There were a lot of empty seats. We had a seat behind the goal, which was also rather cheap. Finally, we ended up having more or less the whole row of seats for us. The official attendance of some 5,000 spectators felt rather optimistic.

San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena – Atmosphere

The atmosphere in the arena was very limited, even in North American relations. This is remarkable as the match with Tuscon is still somehow a local rivalry. The people do identify with their team, but finally, even when the match became closer towards the end, there was no real push by the audience to their home team. Something I really hated was the media production of the match by the host team. I definitely cannot state that the referees had their best day – but you cannot state at the beginning of the match that rude and unsportsmanlike behavior in the stands is not tolerated and you will be removed from the arena in that case – and then do jokes and support the audience in blaming the umpires. They are part of the game as well.


San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena – Food & Shopping

A nice feature about watching AHL matches compared to very major league is that food prices are typically lower – and not too rarely, you even have a better quality. The San Diego Gulls did not offer their guests too much variety in regards of food. There were also not many healthy options during the match. Beer, nachos, burgers, hot dogs – that’s what North American ice hockey is finally running on. I finally had a lemonade during the match, which was really tasty. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it.

One thing which was really weird is that there were just two booths for basic merchandise in the arena. Unfortunately, the San Diego Gulls do not drive a proper merch store in Pechanga Arena.


San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena – My View

It was a fun evening at the San Diego Gulls. The match was closer than though initially. Nonetheless, you just cannot neglect that the arena is a bit of outdated, the service is limited. Southern California simply does not feel to be the right place to do ice hockey – and the atmosphere at Pechanga Arena unfortunately underlines that thought. Other AHL places simply do much better. in San Diego

Here are all my postings related to San Diego in California:


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