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General Press Releases
Waterfront Development

Stage is Set for Largest Veterans Park on the West Coast

Port of San Diego Intends to Designate Nearly 10 Acres for Freedom Park and
Approves Contract for Navy Pier Headhouse Demolition

As part of the Port of San Diego and USS Midway Museum’s Freedom Park project, the Board of Port Commissioners has approved a proclamation of intention to designate nearly 10 acres of the Embarcadero as Freedom Park upon the transformation of Navy Pier into a park. Freedom Park is anticipated to open in 2028.

Beginning at the west end of Navy Pier and going around the Midway to the Bob Hope Memorial, Freedom Park will celebrate the region’s military history and tell the story of everyday heroes who served our country and preserved our freedoms. It will provide visitors with unique experiences on the waterfront with numerous public amenities, including a nature garden, memorials and monuments, play structures, seating and shading, and interpretive signage.

“This project has been an incredible undertaking and we’re proud to work with the USS Midway Museum to deliver on our promise to transform Navy Pier into a public park,” said Chairman Frank Urtasun, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “The Midway is already a tremendous destination on our bayfront with more than a million visitors each year. Freedom Park will connect the history of Navy Pier with the service of the Midway and link both to the existing veteran and military memorials in Tuna Harbor to become a one-of-a-kind destination and a unique experience for all.”

“Freedom Park at Navy Pier will be the largest veterans park on the West Coast,” said Terry Kraft, the USS Midway Museum’s president and CEO. “Throughout history, this country has owed an incredible debt to the men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation. This community park will be a tribute to their service and sacrifice. It will also be a beautiful gathering place on the bay for all San Diegans as well as visitors to our great city. Freedom Park will completely transform the Embarcadero, and all of us on Midway are excited to be part of it.”

The Board has also approved an approximately $7.4 million contract with AMG Demolition and Environmental Services, Inc. for demolition of the headhouse, a large building that sits at the entrance of the pier. Demolishing the headhouse will make way for construction of Freedom Park at Navy Pier.

Demolition of the headhouse is anticipated to begin in the spring, followed by additional structural improvements under the pier, and then construction of Freedom Park at Navy Pier, with opening anticipated for 2028.

The preliminary estimated cost for completion of Freedom Park at Navy Pier, which includes the headhouse demolition and structural improvements is currently approximately $65 million. In an April 2022 Memorandum of Understanding between the Port and the Midway, the Midway committed to cover the costs of the headhouse demolition, reinforcement of the pier, entry improvements and construction of the park. The Port agreed in the MOU to complete repairs to the structural pilings under the pier, which work was done in 2023 at a cost of $11.7 million.

Generally, Freedom Park at Navy Pier will include pedestrian pathways around and through the park, landscaping, enhanced paving, benches, play structures, memorials and monuments, coastal access and interpretive signage, signage, restrooms, concessionaire, and parking. Proposed park features include:

  • A wide public promenade along north side of pier to connect the east and west ends with well-connected pathways and trails throughout the entire park with educational programming elements incorporated
  • Signage to invite and welcome public to access the public park
  • Shade structure, seating, and bike parking along promenade
  • A low seat wall with turf mound for sitting, picnic and active use
  • Plantings that emphasize California natives or plant species indigenous to the region, allowing for non-native, non-invasive shade trees
  • Mobile play and seating elements
  • Flagpole at west end of pier
  • Activated seating at west end of pier
  • Monuments:
    • John Finn Memorial (San Diego native, first Medal of Honor recipient in WWII)
    • Family Homecoming at west end of pier
  • A public restroom/comfort station
  • Creation of a mobile phone microsite (or similar) dedicated to the history of the pier, the Midway, and San Diego Bay; mobile application will also compliment interpretive signage incorporated into the park on the pier and the existing park space in the surrounding area
  • A snack concessionaire to provide low-cost offerings

Freedom Park at Navy Pier will add to the public parks and plazas, restaurants, public art and more that the Port and various public and private partners have delivered in the area in recent years.

  • Lane Field Park, which is dedicated to and named after the field where the original Pacific Coast League Padres played from 1936-1957
  • A widened public esplanade lined with lush jacaranda trees and the “Grand Hall” along West Broadway
  • Portside Pier with first-rate views of San Diego Bay from public viewing areas and four Brigantine restaurants
  • Carnitas Snack Shack
  • BRIC – a lifestyle destination at Broadway and Pacific that includes the Intercontinental San Diego hotel and two Marriott hotels as well as restaurants and retail
  • Iconic public art by internationally acclaimed artist Pae White (incorporated into the pavilions, café building, entertainment and information centers, and the public restroom building)
About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.

About Port of San Diego Waterfront Development

Port of San Diego Waterfront Development contributes to the continuous prosperity of the local economy.

From Real Estate to Aquaculture and Blue Tech, the Port invests in major redevelopment and community infrastructure, so businesses in our region have the opportunity to stay competitive in the global marketplace.