The San Diego Symphony is one step closer to developing a permanent venue for performances featuring a top-notch stage located in a familiar, scenic spot overlooking the bay.
The project, called “Bayside Performance Park,” includes an outdoor stage in Embarcadero Marina Park South, behind the San Diego Convention Center – the same site where the Symphony has hosted its popular "Bayside Summer Nights" concert series since 2004.
Through this plan, the stage will become a permanent fixture.
On Nov. 8, the California Coastal Commission voted to unanimously approve the development. Senator Toni Atkins expressed excitement over the decision on Twitter.
“This will enrich our city’s cultural experience and further activate an underused space!” Atkins posted on her social media account.
According to the San Diego Symphony, the estimated cost of the project is $45 million – all of which will be funded by the non-profit organization. So far, the Symphony has raised $6 million and expects to raise the remainder without a hitch.
The Symphony’s vision for Bayside Performance Park is two-fold: to serve as an “acoustically superior stage” for Symphony performances and to become a year-round community gathering space for a wider range of other performances when not in use by the Symphony.
According to the nonprofit's proposal, the venue will take up about 3.5 acres of the existing nearly-11-acre park space. It would be open to the public during non-event hours, approximately 85 percent of the year.
The covered stage – set to be designed by SoundForms, a company based in London, England – will boast a technologically-advanced sound system. It’ll include 13,000-square-feet of performance space and a fabric-wrapped shell design acoustically-engineered to minimize the “bleeding” of sound.
All seating would be temporary, with an adjustable capacity of up to 10,000 seats. When not in use, the lawns surrounding the stage will be clear and open to the public.
The Symphony estimates that average attendance at Bayside Performance Park would be 3,131 people per event but more could be accommodated, with the maximum capacity of 10,000 seats only utilized up to six times per year.
The development would also add a new "bay viewing deck" at the back of the stage for public use during non-event hours. Also included in the project: 66 new, permanent restrooms, new lighting, park enhancements and a "reconfigured" parking lot. A public promenade around the venue would be widened by an additional 4 feet and would also be open to the public at all times.
Currently, the Symphony assembles and disassembles its stage every year for its summer concert series, along with bleachers, seating, ticketing booths, food stands and portable bathrooms. This project would replace all of that in the form what the Symphony refers to as the “park inside the park.”
The Symphony hopes the stage – with its dramatic, shell-like look – will eventually become a landmark along the famous San Diego waterfront and a place that the nonprofit can present as a gift to the region.
On Jan. 9, the Port of San Diego approved several items to advance the project, including approval of a Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA) and authorization of a binding letter of intent with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.
Now that the project has been voted on by the Coastal Commission, a media relations representative for the Symphony told NBC 7 that the next step is for the Port to adopt the certified PMPA and amended South Embarcadero Public Access Plan. The Port staff expects to take this to the Port Board for consideration on Dec. 11.
After that, in early 2019, the Port Board is expected to approve a real estate agreement with the Symphony. Then, in February 2019, the Coastal Commission is expected to approve the final acceptance of the adopted PMPA.
If all approvals go according to plan, construction of Bayside Performance Park could begin any time after fall 2019.
To learn more about the Bayside Performance Park proposal, click here.
The San Diego Symphony performed its first concert in December 1910. Today, the Orchestra performs more than 140 concerts annually, offering a wide range of musical experiences that add to San Diego’s arts culture.