San Diego Symphony May Soon Have A Permanent Waterfront Venue | Board Of Port Commissioners Considering Proposal For Embarcadero Marina Park South Stage

January 12, 2016

Artistic rendering of San Diego Symphony proposed permanent venue
Today the San Diego's Board of Port Commissioners received a presentation from the San Diego Symphony on its proposal to construct a permanent outdoor concert venue in Embarcadero Marina Park South where it has operated a Summer Pops concert series since 2004. The Board voted to direct staff to further explore and study the project, including an environmental review, and to commence negotiations with the Symphony. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke publicly in support of the item at the Board meeting, as did philanthropist Dr. Irwin Jacobs.

"This is a unique opportunity to provide a permanent home for waterfront concerts for one of our most beloved institutions, the San Diego Symphony, and reaffirm the Port's commitment to the arts," said Port of San Diego Chairman Marshall Merrifield. "Our Board made the decision to move this proposal forward because of its potential to attract people to the waterfront and be a positive development for the entire San Diego region.”

The Port of San Diego has been working diligently to promote measures in supports of a vibrant and active San Diego downtown waterfront in order to attract and encourage community use and support San Diego as a tourist destination. Performing arts events are among many activities taking place in the Port’s 22 public parks. An environmental review, which includes public engagement, will take place as the next step.

"Today’s meeting at the Port of San Diego was a momentous day in the life of the San Diego Symphony," said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. "The positive response of the Port Commissioners, and the support of the Port staff of the proposal for the San Diego Symphony Bayside Performance Center was affirming to the work that we are doing to create a gift to the entire San Diego region for outdoor performances and a place to gather. The importance of culture in our lives was affirmed today by the Port of San Diego and we are looking forward to and excited by its potential and look forward to working with the Port to make it a reality.”

With a 100-year history in San Diego, the San Diego Symphony is a tax-exempt nonprofit that has operated a summer concert series in Embarcadero Marina Park South since 2004. Each year, the Symphony assembles and disassembles a “music-festival”-style stage, bleachers, seating, ticketing booths, concession stands, food stands, bathrooms and other items, along with a chain-link fence, for the summer season. The Symphony has proposed investing approximately $20-$25 million to construct the permanent facility in the same park. The new venue could be utilized year-round and available for other events, filling a gap as a venue for medium-sized concerts and events in the region. This facility is anticipated to increase visitors to the waterfront, in line with the Port’s mission.

The proposed stage would be the first of its kind to be built in the United States. The shell design is a tensile structure with a PVC shell not unlike that of the San Diego Convention Center and San Diego International Airport. A smaller version of this stage was built in London for the 2012 Olympic Games. This new, permanent stage would provide a larger performance space for both the orchestra and guest artists.

The proposed design includes a covered stage with 4,500 square feet of performance space and an additional 1,450 square feet of storage capacity and access backstage; 2,200-square-foot backstage area; new, permanent upscale restrooms; and other public amenities. There would also be technology implemented that supports acoustic, non-amplified sound for 87.5 yards. The design of the stage structure includes acoustical panels with multiple settings according to the type of performance. The acoustical properties of the stage allow for sound to be focused in order to minimize sound bleed.