Symphony will start building its permanent bayside venue next month
Local philanthropists have contributed more than half of the $45 million needed to build the performance park.
The San Diego Symphony is just weeks away from breaking ground on its $45 million Bayside Performance Park venue thanks to large gifts from big-money philanthropists.
Wednesday, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association’s board of directors voted to push forward with construction once the current season wraps up, meaning the project should commence in the second week of September and finish in July of next year. The decision represents confidence in the nonprofit’s ability to secure the private funding necessary to build the venue and complete park improvements.
Already, the institution has raised more than half of the funds required, said Martha Gilmer, who is the symphony’s chief executive officer. Lead contributions include a gift made possible by Una Davis, who is the wife of former City Manager Jack McGrory. Well-known philanthropic couples Joan and Irwin Jacobs, and Ernest and Evelyn Rady are also giving substantial sums to help finance the project, although exact amounts weren’t disclosed.
"(With the board’s OK), we’re really putting shovels in the dirt and beginning construction on this remarkable project,” Gilmer said.
The project reached its crescendo, transitioning from theoretical to actual, last month when the Port of San Diego agreed to lease a 3.68-acre site on Embarcadero Marina Park to the symphony for up to 50 years. The agreement was the last regulatory action needed for the symphony’s long-planned outdoor facility, which will serve as the permanent home of the Bayside Summer Nights concert series.
The project includes a 13,015-square-foot outdoor stage, acoustic shell and back-of-house facilities for a year-round version of the program formerly known as the Summer Pops. It also entails a 5,445-square-foot public viewing deck with concrete steps at the back of the stage, a 68-stall restroom and two pavilions on a 15,242-square-foot area.
The symphony must also complete a number of park improvements outside of its leasehold, including replacing the existing basketball courts and updating the public restrooms. It is also limited to hosting 110 half-day or 55 full-day restricted events, leaving the site open to the public for most of the year.
The institution typically hosts 33 outdoor concerts as part of the annual series, which dates to 1983 and has been in its current location, on and off, since 1991. This year, 14 of the 23 shows hosted so far are considered sellouts, meaning 2,500 tickets were distributed. With the new facility, the symphony expects an average attendance of 3,100 people per event, however the venue’s flexible seating design will allow for crowds as small as 2,000 people and as large as 10,000 people.
Sign up for the Pacific Insider newsletter
PACIFIC magazine delivers the latest restaurant and bar openings, festivals and top concerts, every Tuesday.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Pacific San Diego.