Bayfront performance shell
An architect’s rendering of the permanent performance venue proposed by the symphony.

The Port of San Diego commissioners have voted to move forward with a $45 million project to build a permanent concert venue at Embarcadero Marina Park South.

The permanent venue, to be funded by the San Diego Symphony, would replace the temporary festival stage erected each year for the symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights concert series.

“The San Diego Symphony has a great track record with the port and is a pillar of the San Diego arts community,” said Rafael Castellanos, chairman of the board of port commissioners, after the vote.

“Their proposal to invest $45 million in improvements, including many public amenities and better performance facilities, strikes a new and wonderful chord on our dynamic waterfront, honors the water and creates a dynamic new place on our beautiful San Diego Bay for the public to enjoy,” he added.

The commissioners approved a binding letter of intent with the symphony covering the project.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to the port, port staff and to everyone who has supported us through this process,” said Martha Gilmer, CEO of the symphony. “From the very beginning, our vision has been to create a beautiful park with a state of the art stage that could become an iconic destination for San Diego and beyond. We think of this as our gift to the region.”

The planned Bayside Performance Park would allow the symphony to offer performances and events year-round. It would feature a permanent stage and acoustic shell, but temporary seats would still be set up for each event.

The symphony committed to a number of improvements to the surrounding public park, including permanent public restrooms and a wider promenade around the performance area.

The new venue could be ready as early as 2019 if all necessary approvals are received in a timely manner.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.