Friday, August 16, 2019

"San Diego Symphony Announces Bayside Performance Park" Opening in 2020

rendering from San Diego Symphony/Raindrop Marketing

Today the San Diego Symphony announced the Bayside Performance Park is set to open in 2020. I'm not a big fan of 'public-private partnerships' and giveaways of public land to private entities, but I haven't delved deep enough into this deal to really know how the thing came to take shape, how the land was given or sold or leased. As the current Bayside stage on Embarcadero Marina Park South is an eyesore and limits public access, it feels like the public just accepted it for so long that of course this is an improvement, but it still makes me feel icky, which is the general feeling I get whenever Jacobs' name is attached to anything. I hope I'm wrong and the promises made to the public come to fruition. So often we see 'public access' guaranteed and then funding is cut so, for example, public bathrooms end up locked during any meaningful hours when the public would actually need them. Let's just leave as being cautiously optimistic, though the way the Port is so eagerly giving away Embarcadero Marina Park North to future hotel development and the eventual razing of Seaport Village, I'm not sure I trust their stewardship in anything. Decide for yourself.

Full press release after the jump.

The San Diego Symphony Announces Summer 2020 Opening for New Bayside Concert Venue  
Bayside Performance Park will be only waterfront concert venue of its kind on West Coast  

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego Symphony announced today that construction will begin in September on its highly anticipated permanent bayside concert venue to be located in the Port of San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park South on the San Diego Bay with the first concerts scheduled for summer 2020. The new upgraded park and venue will feature a permanent, highly innovative, architecturally striking and acoustically superior outdoor stage that will allow the Symphony to present a wider variety of musical presentations and enrich the patron experience with improved sightlines, expanded concession area and permanent bathrooms. The Symphony’s project transforms a public park into a welcoming community gathering space that will host a wider range of performances and musical events. As the only outdoor performance space and active park on the West Coast, Bayside Performance Park will provide San Diego with a world-class destination that serves year-round as an event space and landmark waterfront attraction.

With the groundbreaking for its new state-of-the-art venue and the launch of its new music director, Rafael Payare in October, the San Diego Symphony is delivering on its commitment to provide everyone in the greater San Diego region with access to a wide variety of high quality, live musical performances in addition to expanded learning and outreach programming. Bayside Performance Park, through its flexible seating plan, expanded performance opportunities, and improved park facilities and access, will offer the community an unparalleled outdoor park and concert experience. 

“The San Diego Symphony has dreamed of a permanent Bayside venue for many years and we share this historic moment with the Port of San Diego,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “I want to recognize and thank CEO Randa Coniglio, Chairman Garry Bonelli, Port Commissioners, the staff of the Port, and the California Coastal Commission for their professional and dedicated work on this unique project for the public. We are elated to bring this dream to reality and provide the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and the region, with the most iconic waterfront concert venue on the west coast. The high artistic quality of our Orchestra will now be supported by an equally superior performance venue.  The San Diego Symphony looks forward to sharing and celebrating our gift to the community for decades to come.”

The Bayside Performance Park project is being made possible solely through private philanthropy. While fundraising continues, the ability to break ground and begin construction at this time is possible because of many individuals who have been inspired by what this project will mean to San Diego and the region. Lead contributions include a gift made possible by Una Davis, and gifts from Joan and Irwin Jacobs and Ernest and Evelyn Rady.

“The San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Performance Park project supports the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “Bayfront visitors will love the new and improved performance facility, not to mention the improved park and park amenities. It’ll be a destination for people of all ages and interests to enjoy and appreciate. The Symphony has been a fantastic partner in this endeavor and we look forward to the new venue and park being open next year.”

A work of art in itself, the acoustically engineered stage features a concert shell designed to complement the San Diego Convention Center sails and surrounding downtown development. The stage provides a larger performance space for both the orchestra and guest artists. Additional project design components include:

  • Covered stage with 13,000 square feet of performance space and ancillary back-of-house facilities 
  • Sunset steps and patio at the back of the performance stage for stunning views of the Bay and public use during non-event hours   
  • Flexible seating capacity varying from intimate seating of 2,000 up to 10,000  
  • Terraced seating to provide all concert guests unobstructed views from every seat 
  • Temporary seating that allows for lawns to be open to the public during non-event periods  
  • New public restrooms; lighting; extensive public park enhancements throughout Embarcadero Marina Park South; and other public amenities 
  • Enhanced public promenade around the venue expands to 12 feet 
  • Improved and environmentally sustainable landscaping 
  • Sand-based synthetic turf in the main seating area and pre-event spaces, which will reduce water consumption and be more environmentally friendly
  • The venue will be a park inside the park; the park will be open to the general public during nonevent hours 
  • In order to ensure that everyone in the community has access to the events taking place in Bayside Performance Park, the San Diego Symphony will provide reduced priced tickets to every concert; present four free public events, two of which will take place in the summer months; provide free educational events for the public and open Symphony rehearsals.  

The Symphony estimates that average attendance will be approximately 3,100 per event, however the venue will have the flexibility to accommodate a maximum capacity of 10,000 attendees. Bayside Performance Park will be part of the overall park at the Embarcadero Marina Park South and the park will be open to the public during non-event hours, or 85% of the year.
Bayside Performance Park has many premier partners and consultants.

Some highlights include: 

  • Design of the park was developed by Tucker Sadler Architects and will be constructed by general contractor Rudolph and Sletten.
  • The conceptual design of the performance stage is by Soundforms, with construction by Fabrictecture. 
  • The acoustic design of the stage is by Charles Salter Acoustics of San Francisco together with sound designer and consultant Shawn Murphy. The installation of a Meyer Constellation System (Meyer Sound Labs, Berkeley, CA) will provide variable electronically enhanced acoustics on stage for a wide variety of events including orchestral performances, chamber music, Broadway musicals and popular artists.   
  • Burton Landscape Architecture Studio has plans to use landscaping to create a connected experience throughout the Embarcadero Marina Park South.  

“The San Diego Symphony is profoundly grateful that we can activate this public space in such a meaningful way. Martha Gilmer knew the importance of the Bayside project when she took the CEO role five years ago. Her dedication and belief in the San Diego Symphony, and the importance of art’s role in the community, are reflected in this important step. We are confident Bayside Performance Park will make life better for both residents and visitors to San Diego,” said Dave Snyder, San Diego Symphony Board Chair.

Initial programming for 2020 will be announced in January and will include a diverse and wide range of artists. For more information visit

About the San Diego Symphony Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. The Orchestra performs for more than 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much loved venues, Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego and the Embarcadero Marina Park South on San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director; his first concerts as music director will occur in October 2019. Payare leads the orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians, graduates of the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad. The San Diego Symphony also serves as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts and community centers. For over 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive learning and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit

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.


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