SANTA ANA — A proposed $75-million indoor sports arena moved a step closer to reality Monday when the city's Planning Commission endorsed an environmental impact report for the 20,000-seat facility.
Despite a few complaints from neighboring property owners and businesses about potential noise and traffic, the commission recommended that the City Council approve the environmental report at its Feb. 20 meeting.
The final environmental report prepared for the city by the Keith Companies of Costa Mesa downplayed concerns about the arena being in the landing approach to John Wayne Airport. An official with the California Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics said in December that the agency was "particularly concerned about the potential safety impacts associated with such a large number of people beneath the approach to an airport as active as John Wayne."
The Keith Companies said airport officials say there have been no "accidents related to airplane overflight" in the vicinity of the arena. Also, Spectacor Management Group, which will operate the arena, will include a standard procedure for handling disasters, the consultant said.
Meanwhile, plans for a nearly identical arena proposed in Anaheim have been stalled by court challenges to its environmental report. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court on whether to extend a temporary court order barring Anaheim from taking any further steps on the project.
Anaheim was sued in January by the Los Angeles Rams, Anaheim Stadium Associates and Campanula Properties Inc., the owner of a mobile home park next to the arena site on Douglass Road, north of Katella Avenue. The suits allege that Anaheim improperly rushed the arena's environmental study because the city is in a race with Santa Ana to build an arena first.
Developers of both arenas hope to lure professional basketball or hockey franchises.