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General Press Releases

Port of San Diego and San Diego Symphony Celebrate Debut of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on San Diego Bayfront

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Port of San Diego and San Diego Symphony Celebrate Debut of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on San Diego Bayfront
(Pictured from left to right) San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer, Symphony Board Chairman Dave Snyder, and Port Chairman Michael Zucchet. (Courtesy: Port of San Diego)

In support of the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay, the Port and the San Diego Symphony today celebrated the debut of the West Coast’s first bayside concert venue and park within a park, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

This years-in-the-making bayfront performance venue in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South provides enhanced opportunities for tourism, business growth, and San Diegans. Managed and programmed by the Symphony, and with more than 100 concerts and events year-round offering views of the bay, the marina, and downtown, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park and the surrounding park represents a partnership of business, government leaders, and the arts in service of the community.

“We are so thrilled to have worked with the San Diego Symphony to bring this incredible bayside performance venue to life. The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is just the kind of project that invigorates the community, stimulates the economy, and becomes part of the fabric of a city’s culture and identity,” said Chairman Michael Zucchet, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “Bravo to the Symphony and thank you for bringing a second-to-none experience to San Diego Bay.”

Featuring a highly innovative, architecturally striking and acoustically superior outdoor stage, the permanent facility replaces a temporary venue allowing 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 expanded and diverse schedule of outdoor classical concerts is programmed by the Symphony’s Music Director Rafael Payare. The Orchestra will bring to audiences both the most beloved works of classical music as well as the brilliant new composers of our time. As in past years, the best in popular music and guest artists will also be well-represented.

“Today marks an incredible milestone in the journey to making the concept and dream of this iconic venue a reality,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “I am immensely grateful to the Port of San Diego, its commissioners and staff—as their partnership and dedication has helped us get to this moment: the official opening of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, San Diego Symphony’s gift to the region.”

The new, permanent performance venue will operate as a “park within a park” much like Chicago’s Millennium Park. Approximately two-thirds of the park will be open to the public 100 percent of the time, year-round. The portion of the park where the Symphony’s venue sits will be open for public use 85 percent of the year, and for larger gatherings the public can apply for special event permits just like other Port parks on the San Diego Bayfront. In addition, the Symphony’s project also included public improvements throughout the rest of the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South, including a widened public promenade around the venue that will remain open to the public during events, and refurbished and/or replaced seating benches, basketball courts, exercise equipment, gazebo, lighting, and restrooms.

A work of art in itself, the acoustically engineered stage features a concert shell that can be illuminated with LED lighting and is 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;
  • 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;
  • In order to ensure that everyone in the community has access to the events taking place, 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; and provide free educational events and open Symphony rehearsals for the public.

The Symphony’s project partners and consultants include:

  • Architect – Tucker Sadler Architects
  • Performance Shell Design – Soundforms Design Partners: ES Global Ltd. / Flanagan Lawrence / Expedition
  • General Contractor – Rudolph and Sletten
  • Project Manager – Gardiner and Theobald Inc.
  • Landscape Architect – Burton Landscape Architecture Studio
  • Civil Engineer – Moffatt & Nichol
  • Performance Shell, Technical Design & Fabrication – Fabrictecture
  • AV/IT/Acoustic Consultant – Salter
  • Audio/Sound Consultant – Shawn Murphy
  • Structural Engineering – Coffman Engineers
  • MEP Engineering – Robison Engineering, Inc.
  • Theater Consultant – Schuler Schook
  • Lighting Designer – Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
  • Hospitality – Frank O’Dea Hospitality
  • Food Service Equipment Designer – Meyer Food Service Design
  • Branding and Signage – 40/40 Creative

From 2004 to 2019, the Symphony assembled and disassembled a temporary venue in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South for its Bayside Summer Nights concert series.

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 Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director. 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 more than 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

As the centerpiece of the 3.7-acre public Jacobs Park developed and managed by the San Diego Symphony on the city’s scenic Embarcadero, The Rady Shell is the first permanent outdoor venue in the San Diego Symphony’s century-long history, designed to host more than 100 concerts and events year-round. The project has been developed in partnership with the Unified Port of San Diego with 96% of the $85 million cost raised privately by the Symphony.

As innovative in design as it is spectacular in settingoffering 360 degrees of sky and seaThe Rady Shell is an unprecedented resource for the Symphony. The venue will host an expanded schedule of diverse outdoor concerts programmed by Music Director Rafael Payare, including an exciting roster of commissioned works and premieres, as well as performances by international touring artists and free programs. It will also be available year-round for non-profit community groups, schools and individuals. Jacobs Park, owned and managed by the Symphony, will surround this venue with walkways, dining pavilions and recreational facilities in the heart of the Embarcadero and will be accessible to the public for free on most days of the year.

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 Experiences

Port of San Diego Experiences welcomes businesses, residents and visitors from across the globe to enjoy and prosper from our dynamic waterfront.

As a treasured destination, the Port provides unique opportunities to captivate visitors and ensure everyone is welcomed, connected and inspired by our beautiful waterfront.