San Diego music venues
The Sound, opening Feb. 3, 2023. Photo credit: Screen shot,

The Sound, a new mid-sized performance space, opens Friday in Del Mar with eight-time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley performing.

Located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and operated by Belly Up Entertainment – of Belly Up in Solana Beach fame – The Sound is a 1900-capacity concert venue envisioned and developed by the officials who manage the fairgrounds, home to the San Diego County Fair.

Marley is the first artist up – both his Friday and Saturday shows are sold out – with DJ Steve Aoki to follow Feb. 11. The slate through April includes another sellout, the March 18 date with Jason Mraz, but tickets remain for other shows, Big Gigantic, the Flaming Lips and Colin Hay.

The new room is set to host a range of public and private events, starting with Marley’s tribute to his father, reggae and pop-music icon Bob Marley, who would have turned 78 Monday.

Built inside the mission-style Surfside Center on the fairgrounds’ east side, the 22nd District Agricultural Association’s plan for The Sound focused on integrating the current design into the historic architecture.

“All of us at the 22nd District are thrilled to deliver The Sound to every San Diegan,” says Carlene Moore, district CEO. “We’re especially proud to partner with the great people at the legendary Belly Up venue, a long-time San Diego music company, who will undoubtedly curate the new room with local sensitivity.”

Steve Goldberg, co-owner of the Belly Up, pleased with the partnership, called it “a natural progression, right in our backyard, where we’ve been booking shows at the fair and the races for years.”

“So many great bands have played the Belly Up throughout the years, and now The Sound provides a really cool next step for these bands as they grow,” he said.

The venue has been in the works for years, according to, but legal and budget difficulties, then the pandemic, slowed its debut.

The district ultimately received a $15-million, low-interest loan from the state’s Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank and construction began in 2019. Completion was expected in the spring of 2020, but then the pandemic took hold.