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Santa Barbara Bowl Begins Final Renovations

Construction of a new box office and lower plaza are expected to be completed in spring 2014

Twenty years of planned renovations at the Santa Barbara Bowl are nearing completion, as construction crews begin final upgrades, which include building a new box office and creating separate entrances for pedestrians, bicycles and cars.

It’s a welcome beginning of the end for supporters of the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, the nonprofit group that helped raise $38 million for a much-needed restoration outlined in a 1994 master plan.

Work on the venue’s lower plaza began a couple of weeks ago after crews finished upgrades to seating and the upper level terrace, concessions and bathrooms, said Rick Boller, Santa Barbara Bowl executive director.

All master plan renovations — including earlier upgrades to the overlook, backstage retaining wall, the pavilion, the canteen, the Angie and Stephen Redding Gate, and The Glen — will be complete by next spring.

“It’s amazing,” Boller told Noozhawk this week. “It’s the culmination of almost 20 years of everyone’s work.”

Crews on Friday worked to build a retaining wall for the new, slightly larger box office where the bike entrance used to be. That area will include a new pedestrian entrance, with the bike entrance moved to the other side of the current box office.

Bowl Program Director Eric Shiflett said the new entrance configuration would improve safety and crowd management.

Some key players have been a part of completing the Santa Barbara Bowl Master Plan since 1994. Among them, from left, are construction manager Tom McCutcheon, foundation board member Eric Lassen, bowl executive director Rick Boller, bowl program director Eric Shiflett, and architect Steve Carter. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Some key players have been a part of completing the Santa Barbara Bowl Master Plan since 1994. Among them, from left, are construction manager Tom McCutcheon, foundation board member Eric Lassen, Santa Barbara Bowl Executive Director Rick Boller, Bowl program director Eric Shiflett and architect Steve Carter. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

“This actually creates a whole separate entrance,” Shiflett said, adding that the current box office most likely will be repurposed for storage or security.

Concert patrons and musical artists have complimented bowl officials on the changes — feedback that is also visible by the increase in the number of shows.

The venue has averaged 34 shows the past two years, compared with an average of 15 shows per season (generally April 1 through Nov. 1) when the master plan was developed 20 years ago.

An end to construction will also mean the nonprofit can focus on education outreach and on raising funds for general maintenance of the Bowl, which was built in 1936.

This final phase of construction will be the first and only time actual renovations will continue through the concert season.

Shiflett said the foundation is grateful for the support of more than 100 volunteers who helped make the renovations a reality.

One of those volunteers, Eric Lassen, has been involved since 1994, offering his architect expertise and time as a foundation board member.

“It’s kind of amazing that it’s been going on this long,” Lassen said. “But we needed to string it out.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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