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General Press Releases

Port of San Diego Grants Lease for San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Performance Park

a photo and render of the potential new bayside home of the San Diego Symphony

The Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners has granted a lease for The San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association’s Bayside Performance Park project, a significant milestone in the Symphony’s efforts to build a permanent facility on the San Diego Bayfront. A “park within a park,” the project will include the construction of a new performance venue to be operated by the Symphony as well as park improvements in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South behind the San Diego Convention Center.

“The San Diego Symphony is investing a minimum of $45 million in improvements, including many public amenities and better performance facilities, creating a new, year-round attraction on the San Diego Bay waterfront. We’re confident concert-goers will love the improved access and state-of-the art stage and sound system, and bayfront visitors will love the new and improved park,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. 

“As we reach this important milestone in the development of a permanent outdoor performance space, Bayside Performance Park, I want to recognize the incredible partnership that has existed over the past four-and-a-half years between the Port of San Diego, the California Coastal Commission and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “The work we have accomplished together to create and activate a public performance park will be transformative and have lasting impact to San Diego residents and visitors. Our hope is that it will become a coastal destination for everyone, and an iconic landmark for the region and its coastline.”

Since 2004, the Symphony has assembled and disassembled a temporary venue in the park for its Bayside Summer Nights concert series. The approved lease, with an initial 15-year term and four options to extend for a total of up to 50 years, allows the Symphony to operate the Bayside Performance Park for concerts and events, while maintaining public access to most of Embarcadero Marina Park South the majority of the year. With this important step now complete, the Symphony may begin construction as early as September.  

Bayside Performance Park Project components include:

  • A performance stage covered by a tensile structure with superior sound quality – the design complements the design of the Convention Center and downtown skyline;
  • A signature feature of the design is the sunset steps at the back of the performance stage. During non-event hours, the sunset steps will be an additional viewing platform for the public;
  • Sloped lawn with temporary/removable seating open to the public during non-event hours;
  • New, permanent restrooms; a dining and retail pavilion; environmentally sensitive landscaping and lighting; and other public amenities; 
  • Widened public promenade around the venue (from 8 to 12 feet) that will remain open to the general public, including during event hours;
  • Visual public art element to be illuminated from within and visible from the exterior of the acoustic shell; and
  • Refurbishment and/or replacement of existing benches, the basketball courts and exercise equipment, gazebo, lighting and restrooms.

Public benefits include:

  • Most of the park to be open to the general public for 85 percent of the year with programming involving paid admission or rental events limited to 15 percent of the year;
  • Four free public events each year, two of which would occur Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day;
  • Open rehearsals for Symphony concerts;
  • Free public educational events;
  • Some reduced ticket pricing at each concert; and
  • A financial contribution by the Symphony toward a future expansion of Pepper Park in National City.
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.