The Good, Bad and Ugly of the “New” Belmont Park

by on September 18, 2014 · 11 comments

in Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Belmont Park

A Summary of a U-T San Diego Report

A couple of weeks ago, veteran ace U-T reporter, Lori Weisberg, did a friendly analysis of the status of Belmont Park and its “Hits and Misses”.

Here are the highlights of her report, in case you didn’t see it:

Pacifica Enterprises and Eat Drink Sleep are the new overseers of Belmont Park, and over the last two years of their management, have enlarged the dining places and the entertainment options, while giving the place a face-lift.  This has all boosted revenues – for the owners and for the City of San Diego as it receives a share of the revenues from park sales.

Pacifica is a Rancho Santa Fe-based real estate investment firm, and Eat … is a hospitality company.  Weisberg reports:

 “they expect to have invested about $10.5 million by year’s end, with more improvements on the drawing board for next year.”

San Diego – our City government – has seen a bump in its revenues from the park over the past year, Weisberg reports. For instance, the City’s income from the leases during the first 6 months of 2014 went up 16%, from more than $219,000 from last year to $254,100.  This also, you need to note, does not include the busy summer months.

The Belmont managers are currently renegotiating  their current agreement with the City, to increase its length, and to add a “rent credit” which once the revenue gets to a $70,000 threshold, the City’s annual rent is reduced by half.   Weisberg quotes Kristi Geitz, interim director of San Diego’s real estate assets department:

“With the changes they’ve made, like the restaurants, we’ve already seen a huge increase in revenue to the city.  So we’ve definitely seen positive changes with the new leasehold.”

So, what’s new?

  • A new rooftop deck and event space – including the glassed Coaster Room, which can fit 500 people; it already has bookings for a dozen events. The former community rooms that were used by groups such as the local town council to not appear to be included.
  • Draft – a new craft beer-centric restaurant,has been very popular. It has 6,000-square-feet, it faces the ocean and includes  a huge, huge TV screen (31-foot-by-18-foot) with clips from the Mission Beach boardwalk.
  • The new zip line; debuting for Labor Day, it’s up off the ground nearly 30 feet and goes nearly two-thirds of the Park’s length.  It’s operated by Mission Beach Attractions – they run all the park’s amusement games.  It cost $350,000, and a ride is $10 for two;
  • a rock-climbing wall
  • the upcoming debut of the Leap of Faith attraction – a free-fall for the hardy; you get strapped into a harness on a cable and go up a 30-foot tower and leap from a platform;
  •  and several new midway games, including a shooting gallery and tub toss game.


the Tron-themed, three-story laser tag arena;

the Tiki Town miniature golf course.

In the hopper: the WaveHouse will have its exterior floors replaced and surrounding areas upgraded.

 However, it’s not all roses for the park operators and managers. It has also siphoned off revenues for its overseers, reports Weisberg:

  • The Plunge swimming pool  has been closed since March, as it now needs lots of restoration work – which will cost millions.This was not anticipated. Over 500 people came to the near-century old pool daily.  Pacifica has to repair it and also restore the Plunge in a historically accurate way. The corroded gutter has to be completely replaced, along with the tiles on the sides and bottom.A new filtration system cost $.5 Million.  A special epoxy paint has to be  used on the rusting steel frame of the ancient hulk of a building. And a new ventilation system is being installed.
  • Also, the Athletic Club has been shut down, with the losses accompanying the loss in membership dues, from roughlyl 1400 members.   It will be getting a new face-lift,  new equipment and for workouts and yoga – a rooftop deck.
  • The Belmont Park’s new, rooftop restaurant, Cannonball, opened in June 2013 – it had to close during the Fall for its own expansion – and it missed the summer season income. The glass elevator to the rooftop has also suffered delays. A new kitchen and sushi bar are almost finished. They hope to have it open by Valentine’s Day.

Weisberg summarizes her piece that everything is pretty good at Belmont Park – but it could be better.  But we are grateful that she made the analysis and opened up some of the new and upcoming projects and the past and upcoming costs for us who care about the old place.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie September 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Put the property up for sale, contingent upon opening the pool for use by the community to learn to swim, exercise, relax….skip the cocktail parties mentioned in the UT piece.

Stop the nonsense!


OB Joe September 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Why Debbie? First, it’s city-owned land – ours, in other words. Why on earth would we and the City sell the land? Which “nonsense” are you referring to? The making of monies by private developers? This is capitalism we still live under.

I may agree with you that private companies shouldn’t be making lots of money off public land and facilities. But they – according to the piece – are plunging 10+ million dollars into the site and all its improvements.

Yeah, I agree the “cocktail parties” listed in the original article are over the top.


Debbie September 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

So what the the city “we” own it? Since the city aka “we” have not maintained it, get rid of it.

Brett knew what he was getting into when he took over the lease. He will bleed the property and we the landlord in the end will loose. Sell it the property with the exception of the pool and the parking lot, the revenue from the sale with all “us” to make the pool improvements, and “we” can use the pool.

This property has had problems for many years. That’s the nonsense.


OB Joe September 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

It sure has had problems over the years, and at times, it’s been literally a money-pit, just ask Mike Gotch – oh, he passed years ago, but if you recall, he got zinged by his involvement in a like-minded endeavor at Belmont Park.

I don’t think the “sell” idea will have much stamina. All the $$ already sunk – $10M – and once it’s sold, we, the city, the citizens lose the property forever, and especially when money is flowing into the finance-starved city treasury. So, re-think your ideas and thoughts about the place. Are we the only ones who give a shit?


Molly September 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

No, OB Joe, its just I don’t have much thought on Belmont Park. I used to go there on dates and then later with my daughter. My brother used to practice at the Plunge – so, it is a great community resource. I’d hate to see it totally fit into a developer’s pocket.


Debbie September 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Not sure who gives a crap???

Mission Beach has gone to the tourists so I bet all the people who were permanent residents are almost gone and there have been few to complain to the city. Even if one does complain, speak up, request resources it falls on deaf ears.

So instead the city and county sink money into 10Mil bridges, water features downtown, ballparks, etc. and those amenities that are here, historic, useful crumble so that they become such cash cows someone will convince the city to get rid of them because they come up with a revenue generating idea. All past council members should be ashamed of themselves for letting the plunge get into the condition it is in.

It’s just plain sad.

Although I Brett is making some money of his venture! It’s all about the money.


Frank Gormlie September 18, 2014 at 3:51 pm

To that point of yours, I recently read that “normally” Mission Beach has about 5,000 residents, and during summer, the place swells to 20,000 – so, 15K visitors.


Dave Rice September 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Of those 5,000, I’d venture a guess 3,000 or so are transient residents in the form of college students signing September-through-June lease agreements to keep the cash flowing when the weekly rental market isn’t as hot. Probably also a significant retiree population. I’d be hard pressed to believe there are more than 1,500 permanent, working-age residents.


unwashedWallmART thonG September 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Another reference to the UT? Frank, have you gone over to the enemy?


Frank Gormlie September 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

unwashed… What have YOU been smokin’? A simple summary of an article from the U-T of a public and historic resource – Belmont Park – is a sign I’ve “gone over to the enemy”? Whoosh! Often, even the monopoly and corporate-controlled mainstream media can’t help but provide valuable information to the community … blah blah blah. Hey! Ya never rode the roller coaster as it squeaked as you made those crazy turns?


JR September 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

SCRAPE EVERYTHING OFF EXCEPT: The Plunge & Roller Coaster, then do a makeover/remodel to each every year &
thereafter necessary keeping these 2 nostalgic improvements from not falling
into disrepair or deferred maintenance.

ADD/BUILD: A public Library, Bowling Alley & Indoor/Outdoor Dance hall, these for Seniors, Boomers, Juniors,
Xer’s & Yer’s to come read, study, learn, listen, exercise, play & dance to DJ tunes & live Bands, here
to/who play songs from the ’40’s to the ’90’s.

RESTAURANTS: Scrap crap eateries & raise the bar, (no not the year in/year out dive bars) here to bring in civilized
locals & tourists to dine @ the likes of The Brigantine, Miguel’s Cocina, Mimi’s Cafe, Ruby’s Cafe &
Roy’s, these for the 20% crowd who has 80% disposal income to come eat at each on the beach.

By doing all of the above it would send the hooligans, ruffians, thugs, druggies, losers & terrorists up to Pacific Beach where they all permanently belong, this where the rowdy & disrespectful kinds of animals to incorrigible misfits who imbibe & inhabit the streets & raise the crime rate night life to bring down to their low level vibes.

Wake up San Diego City Council then wise up Mission Beach citizens, enough is enough, take back Belmont Park for all decent & respectful San Diegan’s, tourists & visitors to come enjoy, this for the 1st time in 50 years to maybe finally getting it right, this in support of conscious evolution to bringing about thought provoking establishments to arise.


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