SSU pulls plug on pavilion project

Sonoma State University will not complete construction on the MasterCard Pavilion at the Green Music Center, which will result in the university losing $6 million in funds pledged by MasterCard for the project.

Work on the proposed 10,000-seat outdoor pavilion has been halted at the direction of President Judy K. Sakaki and her administrative team. Sakaki first announced the decision to pull the plug on the pavilion at the Academic Senate meeting on Sept. 15. Instead of building the $8.6 million to $10.6 million outdoor pavilion, she said the school will focus efforts on enhancing graduation rates, the student experience and academic programs.

“After reviewing the project with my new administrative team and consulting with key stakeholders, we’ve agreed that utilizing our already existing world-class facilities at the Green Music Center, in lieu of adding an additional facility, would best serve our students, our academic mission and the surrounding communities,” said Sakaki in a prepared statement.

Stan Nosek, the interim vice president for administration and finance, said that when the new campus leaders arrived, they were briefed on a number of high-cost, high-priority initiatives. It was soon discovered that the MasterCard project was approaching a deadline that would commit the university to completing the project. Nosek said completion of the project would cause scheduling conflicts and competition between facilities.

“We came to believe that this additional facility was somewhat redundant with what we already have and was therefore an unnecessary addition to the campus,” said Nosek.

First announced in 2012, the construction of an amphitheater behind the Green Music Center came to a temporary halt last year over uncertainty about whether the funds existed to complete the stage, according to university officials at the time. The plan for the amphitheater was to host performers who were more appealing to students. The Green Music Center, which opened in 2012, was designed to present orchestras, chamber ensembles and more formal acts.

The $6 million in MasterCard money will be forfeited.

“Our initial discussions with MasterCard have been encouraging regarding the possibility of their offering a similar level of support for academic programs associated with the Green Music Center and of direct value to Sonoma State students. As these conversations continue and are concluded, we will inform the campus community of the results,” said Nosek.

While construction will be stopped on the pavilion for good, the hole that was made on the lawn for the pavilion will be restored to be an open lawn area as it was before. 

There has also been talk of renting a stage for future events and putting it on the lawn. Some students feel disappointed the project will no longer be added to the Green Music Center.

“I like how we have some cool artists that occasionally come to the Green Music Center but I was more excited about the festival type of artists that the outdoor stage would attract,” said senior Karyna Uribe. “Something like the Greek Theater in Berkeley would have been cool to have.”

Administrators are still working to bring in concerts that will appeal to students with feedback from the campus community.

“We believe that virtually all types of music genres should be pursued, especially those that Sonoma State students will be interested attending,” said Nosek. “This weekend’s Chris Young concert, for example, attracted over 1,000 of our own students. We would like to see more concerts that would be of interest to our students and will plan to work with campus student leadership to help identify what acts to pursue.”