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San Diego Symphony Bayside Performance Park - Aerial

San Diego Symphony Bayside Performance Park Enhancement Project

The San Diego Symphony has proposed a permanent outdoor performance and event venue for Embarcadero Marina Park South, where the nonprofit organization has operated a Bayside Summer Nights (formerly Summer Pops) concert series since 2004. It is currently being called the Bayside Performance Park Enhancement Project. In addition, the Symphony would improve the park at no public cost with new public restrooms, a wider promenade around the performance area, as well as refurbishment of existing benches, the basketball courts, gazebo, lighting and exercise equipment.

The Symphony's proposed stage would be the first of its kind to be built in the United States. The design is an acoustically-engineered shell wrapped in an architectural fabric that is acoustically superior and aesthetically complements the design of the nearby Convention Center and downtown skyline. A smaller version of this stage and shell were built for the 2012 London Olympic Games. This permanent stage, with an estimated target construction budget of $45 million, provides a larger performance space for the orchestra and guest artists.

Public benefits included in the project are:

  • Park amenity improvements at no public cost including a wider promenade around the performance area, refurbished benches, basketball courts, gazebo, lighting and exercise equipment and new public restrooms;
  • Four free public events each year (two during the peak period between the start of Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day);
  • Free admission to rehearsals;
  • Free, public educational events;
  • Reduced ticket pricing;
  • A financial contribution by the Symphony toward a future expansion of Pepper Park in National City; and
  • Approximately 2/3 of Embarcadero Marina Park South would be open to the public 100 percent of the year, with the event venue open to the public 85 percent of the year.
San Diego Symphony Bayside Performance Park - Aerial
San Diego Symphony Bayside Performance Park Project - Looking West

The proposed design includes:

  • Covered stage with 13,015 square feet of performance stage and ancillary back-of-house facilities;
  • A new bay viewing deck would be created at the back of the performance stage for public use during non-event hours;
  • Sound amplification - the acoustical properties of the stage, designed by London-based Soundforms, allow for sound to be focused in order to minimize sound bleed;
  • Sand-based synthetic turf to be used in the main seating area and pre-event spaces;
  • All seating would be temporary with lawns open to the public during non-event hours;
  • New, permanent restrooms; upgraded dining pavilion, environmentally sensitive landscaping and lighting; and other public amenities;
  • Widened public promenade around the venue from 8 feet to 12 feet wide. The promenade would remain open to the public at all times, including during event hours; and
  • Visual public art element to be illuminated from within and visible from the exterior of the acoustic shell.

Bayside Performance Park Timeline

The proposed project supports the Port’s efforts to inspire residents and visitors by providing unique experiences on San Diego Bay.


The San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association (San Diego Symphony) begins holding a summer concert series known as Bayside Summer Nights (formerly Summer Pops) at Embarcadero Marina Park South under an annual Temporary Use and Occupancy Permit (TUOP). The Port authorized the recurring use through a Coastal Development Permit, which allows up to 37 events per summer season

November 2015
November 2015

The San Diego Symphony submits a proposal to the Port to construct a permanent performance and event venue with enhanced public park amenities and a permanent performance stage with an acoustic shell that would accommodate a full-sized orchestra year-round.

January 2016
January 2016

The Board of Port Commissioners directs Port staff to initiate CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review and commence negotiations with the San Diego Symphony for the project.

December 2016
December 2016

Port staff distributes a Notice of Preparation to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). 

June 2017
June 2017

The draft EIR is made available for public review.

December 2017
December 2017

The final EIR is made available for public review.

January 2018
January 2018

The Board approves certification of the EIR as well as a Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA) and binding Letter of Intent with the San Diego Symphony.

January 2018
January 2018

Port staff submitts the PMPA to the California Coastal Commission for processing.

November 2018
November 2018

California Coastal Commission certifies the PMPA.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is this and how big is the site?

This is sited in Embarcadero Marina Park South, which is located behind the San Diego Convention Center. The Symphony is proposing to build and operate a permanent outdoor performance and event venue on approximately one-third, or 3.68 acres of the 10.8-acre park. The estimated average attendance is projected to be 3,131 per event, however the venue would have the flexibility to accommodate a maximum capacity of 10,000 seats for a limited number of annual events. The venue would be a part of the park and would be open to the general public during non-event hours. Use of the venue for admission-based and rental events would be limited to 55 full day or 110 half-day events.

When will construction begin? / When will the new venue open?

Several things need to happen before the Symphony can move forward with construction including:

  • Coastal Commission certification of the PMPA (anticipated on Nov. 8 2018);
  • Board adoption of the certified PMPA and amended South Embarcadero Public Access Plan (staff anticipates taking to the Board for consideration on Dec. 11, 2018);
  • Board authorization to issue concept approval and a conditional, nonappealable CDP (staff anticipates taking to the Board for consideration on Dec. 11, 2018);
  • Board approval of a Real Estate Agreement with the Symphony (staff anticipates taking to the Board for consideration on Dec. 11, 2018);
  • Coastal Commission final acceptance of the adopted PMPA (anticipated in February 2019); and
  • Staff issuance of nonappealable CDP (anticipated in February 2019).

Project construction is expected to begin October 2019 following the 2019 Bayside Summer Nights season (June-September). Opening is anticipated for mid-to-late 2020.

How much will this project cost and how will it be funded?

The estimated cost of development is $45 million, to be entirely funded by the Symphony. The Symphony expects $25 million to come from donations and the remaining $20 million to come from debt.