Concert venue

Belly Up selected to manage the new Fairgrounds concert hall –

SOLANA BEACH — Belly Up, longtime North County music venue and entertainment company, has been named the event manager and promoter of Del Mar Fairgrounds’ nearly completed indoor concert space in Surfside Race Place, just down the road from their existing Solana Beach location.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association, the fairgrounds’ governing body, approved the contract worth more than $16 million with Belly Up on April 8, ending a sometimes contentious three-year search for a site manager.

Under their contract, Belly Up will be responsible for running a performance operation with nearly 1,900 seats and around 60 bookings per year in the 90,000 square foot Surfside Race Place, first built in the 1990s as a than satellite betting center.

As usage of the facility dwindled over the years, the fairgrounds decided to renovate two-thirds of the building into a concert and entertainment space to generate more annual revenue.

The centre, as the building will be renamed, will include a main stage and bleachers as well as a beer tasting showroom which will be operated by Premier Food and Service. Private events will also be permitted in the space, and the building will continue to house district offices and satellite betting, or off-track betting.

“It’s very early in the process, so there will be a lot more to say as plans develop, but the bottom line is that San Diego County is about to have a new gem. place as part of its entertainment landscape and we’re so excited to be a part of it,” said Chris Goldsmith, President of Belly Up Entertainment.

This is not the first time the company has won the event manager and promoter contract. The 22nd DAA first selected Belly Up for the role in 2018, but rescinded the bid after competitor KAABOOWorks Services, LLC, filed a protest alleging the RFP process violated state guidelines. in terms of procurement.

Due to COVID-induced slowdowns in facility construction, the issuance of a new management contract has been delayed to early this year. This time, Belly Up was the only candidate.

“Through a competitive bidding process, we sought out a highly qualified entertainment promotion and management company to become a collaborative partner with us.” Carlene Moore, CEO of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, said at the April 8 meeting. “They will work to bring complementary entertainment and educational programs to the venue, and to make this work in tandem with our other activities which also take place at the fairgrounds.”

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the $13 million project faced delays when costs rose more than expected, pushing the planned 2019 completion further back. However, construction of the site is now “nearly complete”, said Fairgrounds spokeswoman Jennifer Hellman, although no opening date has been confirmed.

“It’s been a long journey, as we all know. It’s been almost three years … since we started construction, Moore said. “We’re really looking forward to launching it.”

According to Moore, the fairgrounds will receive a basic fee per show from Belly Up, set at a minimum of $7,500 per show. The venue is expected to book around 60 shows a year, with four opportunities for use by the 22nd DAA itself.

One of the benefits of having a local business with an existing venue nearby to manage the new space, Moore noted, is that it eliminates potential competition for bookings.

“They are interested in both [venues] succeed, so it basically minimizes the competition between the two locations. We anticipate that there will be shows at the Belly Up Tavern on the same evening that we are hosting shows here at the fairgrounds. It’s just a difference in ability,” she said.

The contract runs until April 2023, with an option to renew over a three-year period at the discretion of the 22nd DAA.

Since opening in 1974, The Belly Up on South Cedros Avenue has become an iconic regional staple for music lovers, with a capacity of 600 and a legacy of acclaimed artists such as The Killers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and even The Rolling Stones.

The company also partners with the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce each year for the annual Fiesta del Sol event at Fletcher Cove Park, attracting approximately 50,000 people over two days.