Permits were approved this week for a nearly 8,000-seat indoor arena to host concerts, San Diego Sockers games and other sports events at Oceanside’s sprawling El Corazon Park.

Negotiations with the park’s developer, Sudberry Properties, remain underway, and construction of the proposed Arena Califino depends on whether the Oceanside City Council can work out details such as property rights and revenue sharing.

“It’s a good outcome,” said Oceanside Planning Commission Chair Tom Rosales, after the commission approved a development plan and a conditional-use permit, and made some recommendations to staffers and the City Council. “I think this is going to be a good project for everybody.”

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 for approval, with Commissioner Kyle Krahel opposed. Krahel asked for more information about some aspects of the project, such as how much revenue it will generate. He also said the city should avoid “piecemealing” its parkland without more information about the public benefits.

The commission included in its motion a request for city staffers to return at a future meeting with more information about concerns some residents have expressed about parking and traffic for events at the arena. It also recommended the City Council create a policy to require the revenue from all development of the 465-acre El Corazon Park, including the arena, to be used for the maintenance and operation of the park.

The San Diego Sockers announced in 2019 the team’s intentions to build an indoor arena at El Corazon. Since then the team’s representatives have been working behind the scenes with the city and the developer.

The arena would be built on 5.24 acres designated for commercial development at the eastern end of the park near the senior center and Rancho Del Oro Drive. The proposed 618 parking spaces would be added on 7.2 acres next to the arena site that’s listed as park space in the El Corazon Specific Plan.

Additional parking for the arena is available at the nearby SoCal Sports Complex, which has thousands of parking spaces used for weekend soccer tournaments.

Using parkland to park automobiles is one of the concerns raised by the nonprofit Friends of El Corazon, a residents group monitoring development of the entire El Corazon property.

“Parking for commercial uses needs to be provided without taking parkland and creating huge wastelands of parking lots,” states a January letter from the Friends to the commission.

However, it’s essential for the arena to have parking close by, said Colton Sudberry, president and CEO of Sudberry Properties, the master developer of El Corazon.

Sudberry’s company leases the property used for the SoCal Sports Complex, and its parking there also will be available for the new El Corazon Aquatics Center expected to open later this year, Sudberry said.

“We are providing parking to the swim center at our expense,” he said. “That has to be figured in.”

Asked about the long-term economic benefits for the city, Sudberry said, “It’s based on the success of the arena.”

In addition to soccer, the 171,291-square-foot arena is designed to host hockey, basketball, volleyball and other indoor sports. As many as 6,367 seats will be available for sports events. Concerts could have as many as 7,922 seats by using some of the space on the main floor.

Another feature of the arena will be a 36,000-square-foot outdoor plaza on the southwest corner of the property, closest to the new aquatics center. The plaza is designed to be used for events such as receptions, concerts and even theatrical plays.

Oceanside will receive up to $150,000 a year from a surcharge added to tickets for events at the arena, also a 10 percent share of all parking tickets sold, Sudberry said. He suggested that the surcharge not be added immediately.

“Give the arena a chance to ramp up before the ticket surcharge kicks in,” he said.

Eventually, the city will realize additional economic benefits from hotel room taxes, sales tax revenue and other business generated by events at the arena.

The entire El Corazon Park is being built on land that for more than 60 years was an open-pit silica mine. While rehabilitation has been underway since the 1990s, significant soil concerns remain one of challenges to development.

“The dirt under these roads is like peanut butter,” Sudberry said.

Despite that, soils at the arena site have been thoroughly analyzed and, “the developer knows what they are getting into,” Deputy City Manager Jonathan Borrego said Monday. “It’s other areas of the park that need (more) analysis.”

Some commissioners asked for further details of the financial arrangements with the developer. However, those are being worked out by the City Council in closed session and when ready they will be presented at a public council meeting for final approval, Borrego said.

“It’s not up to the Planning Commission to get into the economics of the issue,” said Commissioner Tom Morrissey, adding that overall he’s pleased with the project. “It’s got to be a good deal across the board.”

Several of the local carpenters union called into the meeting on Zoom to say they oppose the project unless the developer commits to hiring local laborers.

“Put some teeth in there about local hiring,” said Francisco Pena, a union carpenter for 28 years and father of three.

No one addressed the labor issue at the meeting.