Facility Ownership and Funding

Facility Ownership and Funding

The San Diego Unified Port District, a public agency that administers all tidelands property along San Diego Bay, owns the San Diego Convention Center. The Port leases the building to the City of San Diego for $1 per year.

  • The Port District used $165 million from its cash reserves to finance construction of the original 1.7 million-square-foot convention center in 1987.​
  • The $216 million Phase II expansion, which opened in 2001, was financed primarily with $205 million in lease revenues bonds issued by the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Financing Authority – a joint powers authority between the city and the Port.​
  • The total annual bond payment for the Phase II expansion is approximately $12.6 million, paid for by the City of San Diego. The Port of San Diego funded $4.5 million towards the bond payment each year, starting in Fiscal Year 1995 through Fiscal Year 2014.
  • Annually, the City also pays between $700,000 and $1 million in de-watering expenses and contributes approximately $3.4 million to the Corporation to be solely used for marketing, promotion and/or capital projects.

In FY16, the San Diego Convention Center generated $23.9 million in total tax revenues that go to the City of San Diego to pay for essential services such as fire and police protection, street, park and beach maintenance, and library and recreation services. Even after an annual $12.6 million taxpayer approved bond payment to fund the Phase II Expansion, a $3.4 million investment used for marketing, promotion and/or capital projects and $737,940 for de-watering expenses, the City of San Diego nets $7.2 million or a 43 percent return on investment for San Diegans from San Diego Convention Center generated tax revenues.

For a more detailed overview of funding for the Convention Center from the City of San Diego, click here.