Green Music Center amphitheater awaiting funding

The construction of an amphitheater behind the Green Music Center has come to a stop over uncertainty about whether the funds exist to complete the stage, according to university officials. The amphitheater would host a wider range of artists, appealing more to the student demographic. The Green Music Center, which opened in 2012, was designed to present orchestras, chamber ensembles and more formal acts. But students have been craving louder, more exciting acts, ones that could not be held in the Green Music Center, on account of their noise level.

“[The new pavilion] would allow the music center to present artists and talent that are more to [students] tastes and preferences, and give us a place for louder shows,” said Larry Schlereth, vice president of finance and administration, in a meeting with STAR staff on Tuesday.

The amphitheater, sponsored by MasterCard and aptly named MasterCard Pavilion, would be located between the music center and Petaluma Hill Road. “What’s there is a great lawn, which has the capacity for 10,000 people,” said Christopher Dinno, associate vice president of administration and finance and facilities operations and planning. “It’s pretty much all ready to go, the remaining piece is just to construct the stage”.

The location as well as the administration is prepared for construction to begin, however the main setback is financial backing.

Schlereth said, “[The university] has $6 million from MasterCard to build the pavilion, so the question is could we build it for $6 million. If the answer to that could be yes, I think we would move full speed ahead.”

The university financial office is in the process of identifying costs, and expect to have a construction cost estimate at the end of the fall 2015 semester. However Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana wants the estimate sooner, because of his upcoming retirement.

“We need the answer much sooner than that if you want a decision from a known quantity, me, versus an unknown quantity, whoever comes next,” said Armiñana. “You need to get those numbers out, even though they might not be perfect.”

Dinno said the cost of building the pavilion could go over the $6 million amount given to the university by MasterCard, which would require a trustee buy-in.

However if the construction estimate fits within MasterCard’s budget, construction could begin in May 2016.

“The GMC is an amazing place, but it isn’t set up for the type of concerts that college students would attend,” said sophomore Scotty Santina. “This new venue will bring in performers that are more popular among students.”

 “If Ruben [Armiñana] has his way, we will be underway. If we want to hang on to the MasterCard money, we have to be complete by 2018,” said Schlereth.