America’s Cup concert venue grew from original plans 

A concert venue will be temporary at the America's Cup Pavillian on Piers 27-19 between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2013. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • Courtesy Rendering
  • A concert venue will be temporary at the America's Cup Pavillian on Piers 27-19 between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2013.

One of the biggest concert venues in San Francisco will temporarily occupy space on The Embarcadero this summer, a late addition to plans surrounding The City’s hosting of the America’s Cup.

The America’s Cup Pavilion, a concert venue under construction at Piers 27-29, could host up to “approximately 40 paid concerts,” with 10 shows “at 7,000 to 10,000 capacity,” according to plans submitted by the America’s Cup Event Authority that were approved last year by The City. That’s nearly double the original size.

The exhaustive plans and environmental impact report for the regatta called for a 4,000-person-capacity music venue at the site.

However, this week promoter and venue designer Live Nation announced plans to book 20 to 25 shows at the venue, with a 9,000-person capacity, between May 1 and Oct. 31.

Recording artist Sting, who performs June 2, is the first and so far only act booked.

Without expanding the venue, “world-class” acts such as Sting would have been harder to book, or ticket prices would have been more expensive in order to cover the artists’ fees, said Jane Eagleson, a spokeswoman for the Event Authority, the nongovernmental entity handling event logistics.

The waterfront space would be the biggest outdoor music venue in San Francisco after AT&T Park and Golden Gate Park, which have hosted the likes of Paul McCartney and the annual Outside Lands festival, respectively. Other indoor venues, such as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, are comparable in size to the Pavilion.

On top of the concerts, the Pavilion also will host events related to the America’s Cup Championship Series, which sets sail between July and September. Near the concert venue, another 1,000 bleacher seats arranged amphitheater-style will face the Bay for yacht race spectators.

Details about the Pavilion’s setup, seating arrangement, video display and sound system remain unclear. Matt Prisoff, chief operating officer of Live Nation, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

The America’s Cup plans were filed in 2011 and approved in January 2012. Plans to increase the size of the Pavilion were filed in March 2012. City planning staff determined that the inflated concert plans did not need to go through additional review.

Live Nation will need to go before the Entertainment Commission with plans to handle noise, traffic and trash cleanup before permits are granted, said commission President Jocelyn Kane.

After the Pavilion is dismantled, a new cruise terminal will use the site as part of a grander scheme to drastically rehab derelict Port of San Francisco properties on The Embarcadero. The Warriors hope to build a new arena at nearby Piers 30-32 by 2017.

Critics of the America’s Cup say a post-facto doubling of the Pavilion’s capacity — plus holding up to 40 events that have nothing to do with sailing — is proof that the 9,000 jobs and $1.2 billion of regional economic activity promised by race backers could not be delivered.

“Explain to me what Sting has to do with [Oracle CEO] Larry Ellison’s yacht race,” said former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a vocal critic of the land deals surrounding the regatta. “This was supposed to be a boat race. … Now it feels like a bait and switch.”

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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