Promoter Wins SDSU Contract, Will Aid Improvements

Avalon Attractions of Los Angeles has won a three-way race for the right to promote concerts on the San Diego State University campus for up to 20 years. As part of the contract, Avalon will contribute up to $4 million toward construction of a student activity center and improvements to the existing Open Air Theater.

The executive committee of the Associated Students voted Monday to award Avalon an exclusive contract, which covers both the existing 4,800-seat Open Air Theater and the proposed 12,000-seat student center, scheduled to open sometime in 1992.

The final agreement, Dan Cornthwaite, executive director of Associated Students, said, “will likely involve significant capital contributions” to expand the student activity center from its originally proposed 10,000-seat capacity and finance various structural improvements to the Open Air Theater, including new concession stands, restrooms, seats and security fence.

Vote on Activity Center


Last February, SDSU students voted to build a 10,000-seat arena, financing construction--estimated at $30 million--through higher student fees. In December, Bill Erickson, SDSU’s vice president for business affairs, said that, after subsequent discussions, “we decided 12,000 seats would be a lot nicer.”

“But we couldn’t see how we could get the additional money from the students, so we had to look somewhere else,” Erickson said then. “And, since at the very same time, the Open Air Theater exclusive was coming up, we decided to couple the two together.”

Avalon was chosen over two other bidders--Nederlander of California, also based in Los Angeles, and Bill Silva Presents of San Diego.

The length of the contract, Cornthwaite said, “is one of the negotiable items, but we anticipate it will be for somewhere between 15 and 20 years.”

Negotiations are expected to conclude within two weeks, Cornthwaite said. In November, Associated Students sent out bid packages to a dozen concert promoters. Only three made the Jan. 3 deadline for submitting bids.

Contract Provisions

In the past, the Open Air Theater contract was awarded every two years, with Avalon holding the exclusive since 1983. The contract will now be extended to a maximum of 20 years for both the Open Air Theater and the student activity center.

Besides the usual minimum annual rent guarantee, promoters were asked to promise at least $4 million in capital contributions toward improving the former facility and expanding the new one.

“The student members of the committee were particularly impressed with Avalon’s enthusiasm and interest in improving student discounts on tickets, continuing their commitment to employment opportunities for students (at concerts),” said Cornthwaite, and letting SDSU students, faculty and staff members have the first crack at buying tickets before they are placed on sale to the public.