The San Diego Gulls are a professional ice hockey team playing in the AHL. They began playing in the 2015-16 season and are based out of San Diego, California. And they are affiliated with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and play their home games at the Pechanga Arena, which is shared with several other professional teams.
The team is actually the fifth hockey team in the city to use the Gulls name and were a relocation of the former Norfolk Admirals franchise. And they join six other AHL franchises to form a brand new AHL Pacific Division.
On January 29, 2015, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they would purchase their AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. This came along with the announcement taht the team would be moving to San Diego as one of five charter members of the then new Pacific Division. The move also led to a rebranding where the team would be called the San Diego Gulls.
The team currently plays at the Pechanga Arena San Diego and are the sixth professional hockey team to choose the arena as their home. And this includes: the original San Diego Gulls of the WHL (1966–74), the San Diego Mariners of the WHA (1974–77), the San Diego Hawks/Mariners of the Pacific Hockey League (1977–79), the second San Diego Gulls of the IHL (1990–1995), and the third San Diego Gulls of the West Coast Hockey League (1995–2003) and later the ECHL (2003–06).
The team played their first home game on October 10, 2015 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. And they finished their inaugural season with an average attendance of 8,675, which was second in the league after the Hershey Bears.
The team quickly made their mark on the league after four seasons and three playoff appearances. So the Anaheim Ducks promoted Gulls’ head coach Dallas Easkins to the same position with the Ducks. And former Florida Panthers’ head coach Kevin Dineen was hired to replace him.
About Pechanga Stadium
Pechanga Arena, originally known as the San Diego Sports Arena, is an indoor arena built in 1966 and located in San Diego’s Mindway district. The arena is multipurpose and can fit anywhere from 12,000 – 16,100 spectators depending on the needs of the visiting event. And this includes indoor football, ice hockey, circuses, mixed martial arts, and more.
Currently the venue is home to four professional sports teams; the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League (AHL), San Diego Sockers of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) 2013 and the San Diego Strike Force of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Previously the arena had been home to several San Diego-based teams in several sports. And perhaps because of this legacy, the arena has been named #3 on U-T Ssan Diego’s list of the 50 most notable locations in San Diego Sports History.
Location and access
The arena is located slightly southwest of the Interchange of Interstate 5 and Interstate 8. It can be easily accessed by driving and is only about a mile away from the nearby Old Town Transit Center.
The original arena built in 1966 was built by Robert Breltbard, a San Diego football hero who played for Hoover High School and San Diego State. The arena was built for a reported $6.4 million and seated 13,000 for hockey or 13,700 for basketball.
The arena first opened to the public on November 17, 1966 and had over 11,000 pro hockey fans who came out to see the San Diego Gulls (who were then members of the Western Hockey League) win their season opener 4-1 against the Seattle Totems.
Hockey Team Summary
As you can see, the Pechanga Arena is home to a lot of incredible AHL action and the latest AHL team to call it home, the San Diego Gulls, is no exception. The team has a record of reaching playoffs play and there’s no telling when they’ll break through to claim their firs championship win.
But you have to come out and see their home games to see the team at their best.