Behind the scenes: Comets bid farewell to Pechanga Arena

by Nathan Dunn

It’s January. It’s Kansas City. A trip to Southern California certainly doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The sun shining down on the coastline, the sand, the palm trees aligning the streets, the Pechanga.

That is what seemed to be in store for the Kansas City Comets as they headed to San Diego for a matchup with the Sockers.

Unfortunately, the trip did not go how the team had envisioned as the Comets suffered a 7-3 defeat in a rainy and gloomy San Diego.

The trip started Saturday afternoon as the team boarded a delayed flight from Kansas City International Airport to Phoenix. Upon arrival, the team had just enough time to get dinner at Panera in the airport before boarding the short flight from Phoenix to San Diego.

More than 1,500 miles from home, the team finally landed at San Diego International Airport late at night. Waiting for the rental vans to arrive, some of the team planted themselves on the airport floor exhausted from the travel while others were spritely up joking around. Those who had energy played a quick game of rondo, with two players attempting to win the ball against everyone else standing in a circle.

The vans eventually arrived in the pouring down rain and the team headed off to The Dana on Mission Bay for night one of a two-night stay.

Morning soon arrived as gameday preparations began with breakfast and a morning session to get loose at Pechanga Arena, formerly known as San Diego Sports Arena which has served as the longtime home of the Sockers. Once returning to the hotel, it was straight to a film session before an Olive Garden lunch.

After just a sliver of sun, the downpour of rain continued throughout the day.

The team headed off to the arena for the historic showdown. It was likely the last time the Comets stepped foot in the Pechanga, an arena with more than four decades of indoor soccer history as the home of the Sockers.

After this season, the Sockers are planning to move into their new arena, Frontwave Arena in Oceanside, California. The only way the Comets return to Pechanga Arena is if both teams meet in the Ron Newman Cup Finals this season.

The Comets lost all four playoff series to the Sockers in the 1980s, failing to beat the Sockers in the postseason until 2003 when the Comets beat the Sockers in a one-game playoff at Kemper Arena.

According to “The Professor” Brian Holland, the Comets’ 7-3 loss on Sunday likely concluded their Pechanga history with an all-time record of 10 wins and 34 losses.

With rain still pouring down after the disappointing loss, the team got dinner and returned to the hotel.

The following morning the team headed off to a busy San Diego International Airport for a direct flight home.

The Comets have created a fortress of their own at Cable Dahmer Arena this season with a league-leading attendance averaging 4,446, which is more than 1,100 more than second-place Milwaukee. Help pack the house Saturday night for Retro Night against Milwaukee. Visit for special ticket packages.