The Civic Theatre is San Diego’s “official” concert hall, being part of the city's community concourse complex, and boasting the plushest setting for entertainment in the county. As a showcase for productions including symphony, ballet, opera, musicals, popular music of the most heavily-attended in Southern California.
Because of the great variety of acts who display their wares at the Civic Theatre, ticket prices are not standardized. For the majority of rock, jazz, soul, country, middle-of-the-road, and ballet programs, tickets range from a low of $3 to a high of $8.50, actual prices depending on the amount of i money demanded by the performer(s). For musicals, dramatic productions, and opera, the cheapest seat is around $5 with a ceiling of $16. Film showings are usually general admission affairs averaging $4 a seat.
Tickets can, of course, be purchased at the Civic Center Box Office, but more and more San Diegans are taking advantage of the mail-order forms which sometimes accompany the newspaper ads for certain events. Roughly half of the events produced at the theatre offer mail-order purchasing, as some promoters frown on the practice. When this service is available, it will say so in the advertising, and the buyer can send a check or money order (including an additional 25 cents for special handling and a self-addressed, stamped envelope) to the Center Box Office, 202 C Street, San Diego, Ca. 92101. The phone number is 236-6510. It would be wise to make sure that there are mail-order tickets available for the event of your choice, since the time consumed in mailing your check, having it returned, and waiting to purchase in person, might cost you a seat. Tickets are also sold at the various Ticketron outlets. It is important to know that tickets purchased at Ticketron outlets are the best seats available at that time. It is a common misconception that running downtown to the Center Box Office will assure a “better” seat than those obtained at the other outlets. In truth, because of Ticketron’s computerized ticketing system, ticket sales are simultaneously recorded at all Ticketron locations, thereby allowing you to buy the best available seat at any one of a number of outlets. For the Ticketron location nearest you, call 565-9947.
It is correct to assume that any time tickets go on sale for an event, there will be a lot of competition for “choice” seats, that in fact if one procrastinates long enough, one is likely to find a “sold-out” sign over the ticket window. But the Civic Theatre poses special problems for the casual concert-goer, problems that are unique. One such difficulty is the large number of subscriptions, or season ticket purchases, whose existence turns the otherwise civilized act of acquiring seats into a frenzied scramble for the few remaining tickets. Unlike rock and other popular forms of music, classical music (this includes symphonic, operatic, and ballet productions) is almost always presented in a series of concerts sponsored by individual professional companies. Sales of season tickets to these events have risen in direct proportion to the increase in interest shown by the public.
While some opera companies, for instance, are swimming in red ink, the San Diego Opera can’t hope to satiate the incredible hunger for opera displayed by San Diegans over the last few years. At this point, about 88% of all seats for opera productions are sold to subscribers months in advance of the actual performances. That means that out of a potential 3000 tickets to an operatic event, only about 360 will be available for sale at the box office. Needless to say, those seats go pretty fast.
The situation is only slightly better with regard to the San Diego Symphony, which sells approximately 2,000 season tickets, leaving 1,000 or so per performance for anxious patrons to fight over. Ballet enjoys a popularity similar to that of opera, with the production of standards like Swan Lake or The Nutcracker Suite (usually at Christmas) selling out before the ink on the tickets has dried. Taking this whole matter to its ludicrous extreme is the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, whose series of San Diego concerts is completely sold out even before programs are announced. The fact that the L.A. Philharmonic even advertises its concerts at least shows that they have a sense of humor, for tickets to their performances are harder to obtain than invitations to a Presidential inauguration. If you are determined to attend a concert by the L.A. Philharmonic, you might watch the classified ads in the newspaper for last-minute private sales. For a more sure-fire method, I would suggest that you cultivate a close personal relationship with Zubin Mehta.
The moral of all this is that tickets to these various artistic events are more precious than most, and their scarcity necessitates the taking of extraordinary steps to obtain decent seating. If you are desirous of tickets to either the symphony, ballet, or opera, write to or call the individual companies and ask to be placed on their mailing lists. In this way, you will receive brochures by late summer that will offer season subscriptions to winter/spring performances, giving you an opportunity to join the swollen ranks of early ticket purchasers in securing good seats. Another benefit of subscribing for a full season is a discount of 20% on the price of each performance. If you are an opera buff, this means you pay for four performances and see the fifth for free.
If you are not interested in seeing all the performances of a particular series, and would rather attend individual shows, it is still advisable to receive advance brochures, so that you may take immediate action in procuring a seat for the production of your choice. It should be mentioned that there are usually 100 standing-room-only tickets sold on the night of the event. On the average, they are priced one or two dollars less than the lowest reserved seat price for that event. These tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis, and the purchaser will find himself standing behind the last row of seats in the balcony area, not the best place to enjoy music, but certainly better than reading about the concert in the morning paper.
As far as rock and other concerts are concerned, tickets are available as much as a month in advance, with the best seats usually gone by two weeks prior to the performance. Because San Diego’s popular concert-goers are generally regarded as “late-buy” types by promoters, however, decent seats can often be bought as late as a few days in advance. This causes an appreciable increase in the number of gray hairs on the promoters’ heads, and occasionally they are frightened by meager advance sales to the extent that they will pull out and cancel the gig. To obtain a good seat, then, and to do your part to make sure that the concert comes off at all, purchase your ticket(s) at least two weeks before the date of the show.
There is, as the saying goes, a trick, to everything, and ticket-buying is no exception. If you have attempted to purchase front row seats to Civic Theatre concerts in the past, have in fact gone down to the box office early on the “first day” of public sales and managed to be first in line when the window opens, only to learn that rows one through twelve have already been taken, then the following information should solve the puzzle once and for all. There is a publication entitled Curtain Call, which is a small, monthly magazine published for the sole purpose of keeping concert patrons informed as to future bookings. For a $3 annual subscription to this magazine, a person will receive a V.I.P. (Very Important Patron) Card, which will entitle him to occasional discounts to certain events, but more importantly, he will receive the publication, which lists the upcoming month’s attractions. Knowing as much as a month in advance that a concert is going to take place gives the subscriber that much more of a jump on other ticket buyers, since newspaper ads generally don’t appear until weeks prior to a concert. For a subscription to this handy little magazine, send a $3 check to Curtain Call, 861 Sixth Avenue, Suite 626, San Diego 92101.
Arrival and Parking
Prudence dictates that you arrive an hour or so early for a Civic Theatre event This allows ample time to find a parking space, stroll to the theatre, and maybe even have some liquid refreshment on the second level before locating your seat. In the case of opera, symphony, and ballet performances, late arrivals will not be seated until there is a proper break in the “action,” so it is better to be a little early than to miss part of an expensive production. Parking is provided in the parkade adjacent to the theatre at $1.50 per car, at parking lots at 2nd and B and 1st and B, and, for diners at the Westgate and Grant Hotels, parking is provided in the subterranean lots of both establishments, which are within easy walking distance of the theatre. You can also, of course, park for free along the streets in the area.
The Civic Theatre hired an acoustician three years ago to determine the quality of acoustics in the building. His tests showed that there is less than one decibel of difference from the best to the worst seat in the house. But the tests were run under ideal situations, and no concert produces an ideal acoustic situation. Especially in the case of amplified music, the sonic properties of the theatre vary from performer to performer, depending on whether or not the artist in question uses the house sound system or prefers to use his own. As to visibility, the boast of good seats and good sight-lines is a fairly accurate one.
The Civic Theatre is as good a place as any in San Diego for listening to music, and because of its plushness, is possibly the most comfortable. The best seating is in the orchestra section (on the floor), although when a rock group arranges its own sound system to face the middle section of seats, it can sometimes be a deafening experience. Classical music carries well in the theatre, but for an operatic production I would advise against sitting in the balcony, because the singing is occasionally so directional as to become inaudible. The higher up you sit, the more familiar you should be with the libretto, or you’ll miss a great deal.
Tickets to the events at the Golden Hall can be purchased at the same locations as those for the Civic Theatre events. Because there is an even greater variety of shows at the hall, it would be silly to try to list the price ranges for all these, but they start at around $2 for general admission “expositions” and technical shows, and hit a high popular-concert price of about $8.50. There are no season tickets to events here, and each event is independent of the next, giving everyone (considering the availability of advance notices) an equal opportunity to buy a good seat. One major difference from the Civic Theatre, though, is Golden Hall’s configurational flexibility, which allows for reserved seating (capacity 4,336) and open, or “festival,” seating (capacity 4,000 due to fire regulations). The same parking situations exist, and, like the Civic Theatre, Golden Hall prohibits the bringing of bottles, cans, chairs, cushions, pets, or knives into the building.
For reserved-seat concerts, it is again advisable to arrive an hour early, but for “festival” seating events, it would be wise to arrive as early as three hours ahead of concert time, since there are fewer seats and floor space is at a premium. Shows are announced in advance in the Curtain Call magazine, and by means of advertisements on the radio. For specific information, call the Center Box Office at 236-6510.
Despite attempts at modifying the building in 1972 for reasons of acoustical improvement, Golden Hall falls far short of the Civic Theatre’s acoustic standards, in terms of both quality and consistency. Some concerts I’ve attended there sounded absolutely horrible, while others (e.g.. Return to Forever) sounded very good. The seats are arranged in such a way that there is rarely a “bad” seat, just more desirable ones near the middle of the hall about halfway between the stage and the back wall.
The Backdoor is a relatively small concert hall at the rear of Aztec Center on the San Diego State University campus. Concerts feature up-and-coming and down-and-going rock, jazz, folk, and country-rock groups, and occasionally comedians. A weekly “hoot night,” to which admission is free, is very well attended. Efforts have been made to keep a “student union” feel to the place, and the atmosphere suggests a comfortable club rather than a concert hall.
The management of the Backdoor tries to keep ticket prices for SDSU students at around $2.50, but here again the cost of putting on a concert is determined by the asking price of the performer(s). The group, KingfiSh, featuring the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, pushed the general-public ticket price to a Backdoor high of $5. As a rule, however, SDSU students pay $2.50, with students from other schools paying $3 and the general public topping it off at $3.50.
Tickets are sold at the Aztec Center Ticket Office only. There is no mail order service for Backdoor events, and although concert bookings sometimes have the appearance of a “series,” there are no “season subscriptions” and each concert is handled on an individual basis. Although they once toyed with a mailing list of sorts, the people of the Backdoor have discontinued this practice, and instead print flyers which are distributed to various San Diego record stores, 7-1 l’s, and popular beer bars. Additionally, advertisements for Backdoor concerts can be found in the Daily Aztec student newspaper, and here in the Reader. Since only 275 of a possible 300 tickets are put on sale, it would make good sense to purchase tickets at least a week in advance. The Aztec Center Ticket Office phone number is 286-6947. The ticket windows are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Note: once a performance has been sold out, the chances of obtaining a ticket are minimal, since refunds are generally not made, and hence “waiting lists” do not exist.
Arrival and Parking
Because of the open seating arrangement, concert patrons generally queue up pretty early in order to grab the best spots once inside, so an arrival time of six o’clock for an eight o’clock performance is not unusually early. Unfortunately, the shows don’t always start on time, so be prepared to wait in line a little longer than expected for the “hotter” shows. If you are prompt enough and determined to get one of the better seats, it is suggested that you grab one of the chairs at a front line table. The tables occupy about one-third of the room area, and are situated near the rear of the room to provide for adequate sitting space on the floor.
The parking situation at SDSU has always been a major problem for students, but at night there is plenty of parking space if you don’t mind walking a little. After six o’clock the campus police usually will not issue citations, so you can park in any one of hundreds of faculty, staff, or student spaces. For convenience and because you stand a better chance of finding a space immediately, it is preferable to use the open lots at the southeastern corner of the campus. From there, it’s just a short walk to the Backdoor via the College Avenue pedestrian bridge.
The fact that the Backdoor is a student-oriented establishment automatically makes it somewhat more casual in its operation, which can be an advantage and a disadvantage to veteran concert-goers who are used to being shuffled in and out of larger halls like computer cards. One thing on the plus side is the relaxed attitude toward bringing objects into the building. Low patio chairs, cushions, bean bags, and the like are permitted, as long as they are not so large as to block the view of other patrons.
Even though the acoustics have always been adequate, if not great, there is currently a move being considered by the Aztec Center Board that, if approved, would allow for a major overhaul of the Backdoor facilities to improve the acoustic properties. This, of course, would make the hall even more appealing to musicians and audiences than it already is.
Montezuma Hall is an all-purpose facility that has been used for everything from musical concerts to political rallies. Because it was not designed for any specific use, it is a more suitable facility for some events than for others. It is used most often for comedy, classical music, lecture, and dance programs.
The price spread on tickets for most performing arts programs is usually $2 for SDSU students, $3 for SDSU faculty, staff, and alumni, and other students, and $4 for the general public. Lectures given by political, literary, or show business figures generally cost $1 for SDSU students, $2 for faculty, staff, alumni, and other students, and $3 for the public. An average concert of popular music will be $2.50, $3, and $3.50 for the same categories.
Like its neighbor, The Backdoor, Montezuma Hall shies away from mailing lists, and season tickets are precluded by the variety of attractions and admission charges. The Aztec Center Ticket Office is again the exclusive outlet for tickets to events at Montezuma Hall, and unlike their policy with respect to The Backdoor, they will also accept mail orders, as long as they are accompanied by a check, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Mail orders to: Aztec Center Ticket Office, San Diego State University, 5300 Campanile Drive, San Diego, Ca. 92182. Otherwise, you can pick them up in person during the regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For an eight o’clock program, the ticket window will re-open (provided the event hasn’t been sold out) at about 7 or 7:15.
When a program is expected to sell well over the 1,000 seat capacity of Montezuma Hall it is scheduled for Peterson Gym, which is larger, if less desirable aesthetically. Tickets for these events can be purchased in the usual Aztec Ticket Office fashion, or on the night of the program at Peterson Gym ticket window. For any of the Montezuma Hall or Peterson Gym events, tickets can almost always be attained several weeks ahead of the program, since the calendar of events is fairly complete well in advance. Unfortunately, contracts between Montezuma Hall and the agents representing many rock groups take longer to consummate, but despite the often protracted negotiations, tickets are still available in plenty of time. Notices of upcoming events include ads in the Daily Aztec, in the Reader for popular programs, in Applause magazine for classical music concerts, and occasional public service spots on the various popular radio stations (since the school’s Cultural Arts Board operates as a non-profit organization). Someone with serious intentions of attending shows at Montezuma should purchase tickets as soon as the notices appear, and at least a week prior to the program, due to the limited seating.
As for the seating itself, there are approximately 700 chairs in the hall, with floor space in front of the stage for those with tougher derrieres. It is only on rare occasions that seats are reserved, and because the policy for most shows is first-come-first-served. the location of your seat will largely depend on your time of arrival. For an eight o’clock performance, the majority of people show up at around 7:30, but the “hotter” attractions will see lines forming at seven or earlier. Because classical music patrons are less inclined to sit on a hard floor, and because the nature of the building’s acoustics do not allow for satisfactory listening for rear-hall standees, no more than 900 tickets are sold for these events.
As mentioned, Montezuma Hall is a multi-purpose facility, and that means, among other things, that seating configurations are not permanent or standardized. There are basic set-ups for particular kinds of programs, but the nature of each act determines the audibility and visibility of the performance. Classical music seems to suffer the most, since the most traditional music performers eschew amplification. Sight lines
are generally adequate from anywhere in the hall, except on occasions when a theatre or dance group utilizes a raked stage. In these instances, the rows at the very rear of the hall have difficulty vjewing the performers when they move toward the front of the stage. Otherwise, there are no permanent or structural obstacles to good viewing.
The parking situation is the same as that for The Backdoor, the best lots being those on College Avenue. The lot directly facing the entrance to Aztec Center is closer, but it is full almost constantly from morning until
mid-evening. For information regarding any event at Montezuma Hall, call the Aztec Center Ticket Office at 286-6947, or the Cultural Arts Board at 286-5278.
Mandeville Auditorium is part of the recently-completed Mandeville Center on the campus of the University of California at San Diego. While the various departments at the school offer a myriad of free programs throughout the year, including films, lectures, and seminars, the biggest draws remain the performing arts events. Many of the shows at Mandeville Auditorium feature performers who otherwise do not appear in this area, and so the auditorium is able to boast an appealing variety of talents, ranging from the Philadelphia String Quartet to comedienne Lily Tomlin.
Ticket Prices Unusual as it may seem, most of the concerts sponsored by the music department of UCSD (about 70 such programs a year) are free of charge and open to the public, as are many other programs by individual departments. When tickets are sold, though, they average in price from $2.50 for students to $4 for non-students. Rock concerts have cost as little as 99 cents, and the highest price for a big classical attraction was in the neighborhood of seven or eight dollars. But the tendency has been to keep prices around $4 to $5 for the general public. The Campus Program Board runs a Friday and Saturday evening series of feature films open to the public with an admission of either one dollar or $1.25, contingent on the cost of renting the film.
Mandeville Auditorium serves the entire campus of UCSD and its many departments, hence no comprehensive mailing list exists. Each separate department does keep a mailing list, however, and will be glad to include your name. The quickest way to get on each individual list is to telephone the department directly. To contact the Music department, call 452-3229; for the Drama department, call 452-2791; the Visual Arts number is 452-2860. General information regarding tickets to a particular event can be obtained by calling the Central Box Office (located in the Arts & Lectures office) at 452-4559. It’s possible that by receiving mail from all these departments some information will be duplicated, but this is better than being only partially informed.
The only ticket outlet for programs at Mandeville Auditorium is the Central Box Office. Tickets can be.purchased in person or ordered by mail, provided you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If you do not send a return envelope with your order, your tickets will be held at the evening box office at Mandeville Center. This procedure
is also followed when orders are received too late to be returned by mail. The box office does not accept telephone reservations. It is also the policy not to offer refunds or exchanges on tickets. In cases of sell-outs, however, a waiting list will sometimes be maintained at the Mandeville Box Office. Since this facility has no telephone, it is up to the would-be patron to decide whether or not to show up and wait for an available seat. If a show is sold-out well in advance, it is possible to phone the Central Box Office to be added to the waiting list. The box office personnel will be glad to tell you of your chances of obtaining a late seat (as a rule, the first ten on the list should attend the performance just in case).
Even though the “hotter” attractions (like Anthony Newman or comedic actor Gene Wilder) sell out quickly, one can expect to find tickets available at the door roughly 80% of the time. However, to play it safe, purchase your tickets a week or so in advance. Information regarding Mandeville’s many attractions can be found in the La Jolla Light newspaper, the Evening Tribune, and weekly in the Reader Calendar.
Depending on the configuration of the seating for a particular program, Mandeville Auditorium has a capacity of 500 to 800. The sight lines are better than average throughout most of the theatre, with only two relatively bad rows (B and C). These rows rest on the section of floor immediately preceding the gradual rake that raises the last half of the auditorium in a gentle slope, and consequently the visibility here is poor. As a result, these are the last two rows to be sold, even though they sit directly in the middle of the hall.
The auditorium has been blasted in the past for its noise problems, particularly the noise emanating from the air-conditioning system. Despite expensive adjustments to rectify the situation, there is still room for improvement, but this is also true of almost every other concert-type auditorium in San Diego. Acoustically, the room is a little on the “dry” side, but that is good news for musicians, since it means less of the “muddying” effect caused by too much reverberation. As with similar halls, the reality of program flexibility makes it impossible to tailor the acoustic qualities to a specific need (shows have ranged from soloists to 400-voice choirs). Emphasis, nevertheless, remains on traditional music concerts.
Arrival and Parking
The auditorium’s open-seating policy dictates early arrival for patrons who are particular about their seats, but many arrive only a half-hour before a program and still find decent seating. There is plenty of free evening parking at either the Muir College temporary lot (east of Muir College) or on the street east of the Mandeville Auditorium.
OLD GLOBE THEATRE
The Old Globe enjoys a good reputation worldwide, mainly the result of the summer-long Shakespeare Festival. The theatre remains very active throughout the year, however, offering programs which include contemporary plays and chamber music.
The popularity of the Shakespeare festival could easily push ticket prices out of sight without denting the attendance figures. The easy salability of these tickets notwithstanding. prices for these summer productions have remained stable for years, averaging $7 per person for each of the three plays. From late September through mid-May (the Fall-Spring season) ticket prices are even lower, with Friday and Saturday night seats going for about $5.25. and Sunday-through-Thursday tickets selling for $4.75 (the theatre is closed Mondays). During this nine-month run, students, military, and senior citizens can buy tickets at the discount price of $3.50. The plays featured for the duration of the Fall-Spring season run the gamut from Moliere to Shaw to Williams. The chamber music concerts are ordinarily benefit affairs, and “donations” vary accordingly.
Approximately 80% of tickets sold for Old Globe productions are on a subscription basis, and with a capacity of only 420 seats, it’s easy to see why tickets are precious. It is naive to think in terms of days-in-advance when one considers attending any of the Shakespearean plays. The weekend performances are understandably the first to go, but even the weeknight productions are sold out so quickly that only the well-prepared ticket-seeker stands a chance of seeing the play of his choice. Preparedness in this case involves getting on the mailing list and ordering tickets as soon as the mailman delivers the brochure. Order forms can be had by calling 239-2955, or writing to: Old Globe Theatre, P.O. Box 2171, San Diego, Ca. 92112. Tickets are available only through the Old Globe Ticket Office in Balboa Park, adjacent to the theatre itself. Generally speaking, brochures are mailed in early May, and by the first week of June, most of the tickets have been sold. Until recently, the Globe maintained a waiting list for people who wished to attend a sold-out production, but thi? proved to be a burden. Now, if you wish to see a play on a certain night during the summer, you must show up at the ticket window an hour prior to curtain time to check for cancellations. Besides the brochures, advance notice is usually given in the Union-Tribune, Applause and San Diego magazines, on KPBS. and in the Los Angeles Times. Changes in the yearly repertory system make it impossible to reserve seats on a year-to-year basis, meaning tickets must be purchased again each Spring.
Although tickets for Fall-Spring programs are not as dear as those for the Shakespearean plays, it is nevertheless wise to reserve seats as early as two weeks prior to the opening of the particular play. As with the summer shows, the last two weeks of a play’s run are the easiest to obtain tickets for. but it is not a good idea to be complacent. Fall-Spring seats can be reserved on a year-to-year basis, unlike the Shakespearean plays, and that means that many people return season after season to the same seat, limiting the number of tickets for one-niters considerably. Another argument for reserving seats well in advance for either the Shakespeare Festival or the Fall-Spring lineup is the fact that there are some genuinely poor seats in the theatre, and the enjoyment of any play can be affected by the comfort or discomfort one experiences while watching it. About 350 of the 420 available seats can be considered “choice,” and sight lines practically do not exist in some areas of the balcony. For the patron who determinedly tries to view the proceedings from a rear balcony seat, the money saved on this slightly less expensive ticket is swallowed up by subsequent chiropractic bills.
Arrival and Parking
Plan on being in the park area at least half-an-hour before curtain time. There is no fee for parking, but neither are there any reserved spaces, and with the many activities taking place in Balboa Park simultaneously, parking can be a real chore.
CASSIUS CARTER THEATRE (CARTER CENTER STAGE)
This is the sister theatre of the Old Globe, located a few paces east of it. and used for theatrical and musico-theatrical productions. The Carter is a theatre-in-the-round, with four rows on all sides, totaling 245 seats. This naturally makes for excellent visibility from anywhere in the house, and exists as an exciting counterpart to the more traditional Globe. During the summer Shakespeare Festival, the Carter serves as a balance to the headier theatrical menu of the Globe, presenting lighter fare such as last summer’s Rodgers and Hart production. During the Fall-Spring season, the Carter shares the modern theatre format with the Old Globe, and shows at the theatres run concurrently.
Ticket prices and availability are basically the same as those for the Globe’s September-to-May series, and again the Old Globe Ticket Office serves as the exclusive outlet. The parking situation is identical to the Globe’s.
STRAITA HEAD SOUND
Straita Head is more than a concert hall; it is a recording studio complex covering some 15,000 square feet of frontage at 7578 El Cajon Boulevard. But though the performance side of the business is purposely overshadowed by the recording end, it is the concerts that keep people coming back time and time again. Featured artists are usually in the can’t-fill-the-Sports-Arena category, with many types of music represented, including hard rock, country-rock, bluegrass, jazz, and soul. Local talent is frequently presented in concert packages resembling those accorded the “name” acts.
Tickets are $3, $4, $5, $6, for most of the “major” attractions, with local productions averaging two or three dollars, depending on the potential drawing power of the group(s) or performer(s).
Unless other arrangements are made, all ticket sales originate at the Straita Head building, and can be purchased several days ahead of time, and on the night of the performance. Ticket sales are handled on an individual concert basis, and there is no mailing list. Hence, information concerning upcoming gigs must be obtained from flyers distributed to many music-related businesses, and from ads in the Reader. Since the hall holds around 600 people, it is suggested that tickets be purchased at least two or three days prior to the program. For information regarding particular concerts, phone 465-9997.
Straita Head’s concert hall is sectioned into a level floor area (covered with chairs for concerts) and a permanent theatre seat area beginning about two-thirds of the way back from the stage. The stage itself is large enough to hold most groups comfortably, and visibility is very good from anywhere in the hall. The acoustics are as good as those of any hall used mainly for amplified acts, with ceiling-to-floor drapes on both side walls to cut down on sound leakage and excessive reverberation.
Arrival and Parking
Due to the fact that whole sections, rather than individual seats, are reserved for the majority of Straita Head productions, it would behoove you to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to showtime in order to secure the best available seat in your price category. Parking for a few cars is provided at the rear of the building, but most concert-goers must look for spaces along El Cajon Boulevard, or in the nearby lots of other businesses.
SAN DIEGO STADIUM
There are actually three stadiums here: the one used for baseball, the one used for football, and the one used for musical and public interest events. For reasons of simplification, then, public accessibility to the stadium will be broken down into these categories. PADRES
The Padres have been proud of the fact that their prices are among the lowest in major league baseball. Even if Ray Kroc’s proposed ticket hike takes effect, the team will merely be moving in line with other teams’ prices. Until further notice, though, ticket prices are $1.50 for general admission (sold only on the day of the game), $2.50 for upper level reserve seats, $3.00 for reserved loge seats, $3.50 for reserved plaza seats, and $4 for press and field level seats.
Tickets are sold at the San Diego Padre ticket window. Gate “E” at the stadium, and at Bill Gamble’s Select-a-Seat locations. There are several different season tickets available, depending upon whether or not one wants to see all of the home games, or only selected games. It is possible to order tickets by mail, merely by addressing your check or Master Charge/Bankamericard number to: San Diego Padres, Ticket Dept., P.O. Box 2000, San Diego, Ca. 92120. Or, you can phone 283-4494. Of course, it is necessary to specify which seat(s) you want, and the best seat(s) available at the time of the order will be reserved. Tickets go on sale March 15, and you can purchase seats for any game at that time. Because there are no refunds or exchanges made on tickets once they are sold, and because the Padres want you to be completely satisfied with your seat, they encourage prospective ticket-buyers to visit the stadium during off-hours to view the seating arrangement first-hand. Entrance to the stadium can be gained at the security door west of Gate “E.” If you are one of the many fans who wait until the last minute to purchase tickets, be advised that the best seats (between first base and third) go quickly, and that the latest you should wait to buy a ticket is two or three days prior to a game.
Arrival and Parking
If you live reasonably close to San Diego Stadium, you should start out for most games at least 30 minutes before game time. “Big” games, of course, draw larger crowds, and so it becomes necessary to leave 45 minutes to an hour early. Parking is a separate concession, and is also subject to changes by the Padre office during the offseason, but has in the past been one dollar per car.
By comparison to Padre tickets. Charger tickets are fairly expensive, and a fan who desires the best seating available can easily spend 30 dollars on a Sunday afternoon (including a couple of the higher-priced seats, parking fee, and refreshments). Press level seats are tops at $ 13 per, with the better field, plaza, loge, and upper level seats going for $8.50 apiece. Lower field, end zone plaza, and end zone upper level seats are $7. Season tickets are available starting soon after the Super Bowl game, and prices are determined by multiplying the price of the desired seat by the number of home games that year. Season tickets can either include or exclude preseason games. There are no discounts given on season subscriptions.
All tickets to Charger games are sold through the Charger ticket window at San Diego Stadium’s Gate “E,” or at Bill Gamble’s Select-a-Seat locations. Mail orders are accepted, provided a check or money order for the full price, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope are enclosed. The mailing address is: San Diego Chargers, P.O. Box 20666, San Diego, Ca. 92120. The telephone number for orders and/or inquiries is 280-2111. If you are interested in procuring season tickets for next year, contact the Charger office in late January. Usually, since previous season ticket holders maintain priority from year to year, a new applicant can’t hope for much better than section 30 or 31 on the “shady” western side of the stadium. These sections are on the curve portion of the closed end of the stadium, facing the northwest corner of the end zone. The idea is that after a couple of years of maintaining season ticket-holder status, you may be able to ease over toward the better mid-field seats, as some people decide not to renew. The highest turnover of season tickets, however, is on the “sunny” side of the stadium, in the field and upper level sections. This is because on a hot fall day, the heat and glare of sunlight can diminish even the most avid fan’s immediate interest in football. If you are mainly, concerned with individual games, tickets should be purchased at least a week or two before the game itself. Especially in cases of “big” games, the earlier you buy your ticket, the better are your chances of avoiding the high altitude and worm’s-eye-view seats.
Arrival and Parking
Plan on leaving at least by 12:15 for a 1 p.m. game. Although tailgate parties bring many people to the stadium as early as three hours before a game, there is still a traffic jam to contend with on the roads leading to the stadium, other cars to compete with for spaces once inside the parking area, and lines at the gates. Parking is similar to that for Padre games, with the exception of an extra reserved parking area closer to the stadium gates. So, general parking costs a dollar per car, and if you wish to park in the special reserved section, it costs an additional dollar per car.
SDSU Aztec football games are $5, $6, and $7 for reserved seats, and $2.50 for general admission. Season tickets and individual tickets are available through the Aztec Center Box Office, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The telephone number is 286-6947. Since the Aztec Center Box Office is closed on weekends, tickets for Saturday night games are sold only at the Stadium’s Gate “F” ticket window after 4 p.m. Friday aftrnoon. Gate “F” is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for advance sales. The telephone number is 283-7096. The stadium’s configuration is identical to that used for Charger football games, and arrival and parking conditions are similar.
CONCERTS AND OTHER ATTRACTIONS
Ticket prices for stadium events such as rock concerts and religious crusades are dependent on the individual promoters. The acoustics of the stadium are not very well suited to music, but the seating is reasonably comfortable, and a large crowd can be accommodated easily. During the baseball season, the dirt area of the infield is fenced off for protection, so seating is situated in the outfield grass as well as in the stands. Stages are generally erected in deep center field facing home plate. Arrival and parking situations are similar to those for sporting events. Ticket information can be found in media advertising prior to the event, or obtained by calling the stadium administration office at 283-5503.
SAN DIEGO SPORTS ARENA
The Sports Arena, as its name implies, was built specifically to house athletic events of different kinds, including hockey, basketball, track and field, and recently volleyball and tennis. Circuses have been held here, as have ice shows and other public interest entertainment programs. The realities of business, however, have necessitated the use of the arena for a great many music concerts, especially with the demise of the Sails, sale of the Rockets, and defection of the Gulls. Rock and other popular concerts are paying the bills these days. Ticket Prices These vary with the act, but generally reserved prices fall in the $5 to $8 category. The arena concerts of the early 70s tended toward the “festival-seating” arrangement, but for various reasons the policy, has reverted to reserved seating for most concerts.
Besides at the Sports Arena Ticket Office, tickets can be purchased at various arena “ticket agencies,” usually private businesses that sell tickets on the side. For information regarding the outlet nearest you, call the arena office at 224-4176. Mail order tickets are available for the larger events, with seating priority designated by the order in which requests are received. For these events, mail orders are accepted as soon as the program and mail order service are confirmed. Otherwise, tickets go on sale at the outlets about two or three weeks in advance. Because of the varied nature of the scheduling, no mailing list is maintained, but information is always found easily in daily newspapers, the Reader, and on popular radio stations. Unfortunately, ticket resale outlets manage to grab a large portion of the best seats, and there is no way to stem this tide of ticket-scalping, so even the early ticket-buyer will often find the best seats already taken.
Arrival and Parking
There is plenty of parking at the arena and at nearby lots and streets, provided one leaves in time to find a space. For most reserved-seat events, a departure time of 30 or 40 minutes prior to the starting time of the program is sufficient. For “festival seating" events, however, again depending on the popularity of the act, people will line up as early as the night before the program, making it nearly impossible for the casual concert-goer to find a decent seat. According to the whims of the promoters, ticket prices will either include a parking fee, or a separate charge will be levied on entrance to the arena lot.
As concert halls go, the Sports Arena makes a wonderful sports arena. Acoustics in the building are the worst in our sector of the solar system, and although it is possible to find a seat (sometimes along the side sections or directly at the rear of the arena, stage center) where the sound is relatively listenable, most of the time the sonic quality of arena concerts resembles that of a loud transistor radio placed inside an empty washing machine.
Season tickets are available for Mariners home games, and like the Padres, the
Mariners offer mini-season subscriptions for people who either can't afford an entire season's worth of seats, or aren’t interested in attending quite that often. For the more avid hockey fan, subscriptions for the entire slate of home games are $285 for the loge and rink-side seats, $209 for the upper level seats, and $120 for upper level goal end seats. The mini-season tickets (exactly half of the games played) are $142.50, $104.50, and $60 for the same three categories. Tickets for individual games are $7.50, $5.50, and $3.
Because of the confusion surrounding the Mariners’ status in this town, much of the organizational detail is yet to be worked out, but for now tickets are being sold at the Padres window. Gate “E” at the stadium, and all Bill Gamble Select-a-Seat locations and any inquiries about the Mariners are being referred to the Padre office. Mail orders are being accepted in much the same fashion as for Padre games, and in fact the mailing address is the same: Mariners, P.O. Box 2000, San Diego, Ca. 92120. For information over the phone, call 225-9633.
The first professional championship team in San Diego for years, the Breakers nevertheless had problems selling tickets. There are those who will not spend $5 to see a volleyball game, but unless prices are changed for next season, they remain as follows: $5.50, $4.50, $3.50, and $1.50. The Breakers offer mail-order service, and requests should be mailed to: The Breakers. 1660 Hotel Circle North. San Diego. Ca. 92110. The telephone number is 299-7595.
The Friars offer tennis enthusiasts a chance to watch players like Rod Laver in action close-up. As tennis has for years been considered the gentile sport of the “leisure” class, it is just now becoming popular with the general public, and could prove a substantial draw in the years to come. In keeping with the upper-class image, the first two rows on the floor tor Friars matches are priced at $15 per seat. After that, the prices are more in line: $6.50. $5, and $2.50. Like the Breakers, the Friars operate their offices
out of the Lyon building in Mission Valley, so ticket inquiries can be mailed to: Friars, 1660 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, Ca. 92110. The telephone number is 298-9855.
The Spreckels Theatre is the grandame of theatres in San Diego, and its recent revival as a concert hall was good news to many people who knew of its potential as a showcase for theatro-musical productions. The Spreckels is noted for its acoustic excellence, and sight lines are better than in many newly-rebuilt concert halls. So far, the entertainment menu includes plays, musicals, and concerts by the Sinfonia of San Diego.
Plays and Musicals
The schedule of plays and musicals for the upcoming season includes Equus, A Matter of Gravity starring Katharine Hepburn. The Royal Family with San Diego's own Forrest Buckman, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Raisin, and The Belle of Amhurst. Until two weeks prior to the opening of Equus in November, tickets will be sold on a series subscription basis only. Series prices for the Monday through Saturday evening performances, in descending order of desirability, are $80, $67, and $34. For Wednesday and Saturday matinees, the prices are $63, $51, and $27. To get on the mailing list or to order your seats, write to: “San Diego Playgoer Series,” 121 Broadway, Suite 239, San Diego, Ca. The telephone number is 231-8895.
Sinfonia of San Diego
The Sinfonia, under the direction of maestro John Garvey, offers two different series of performances to San Diegans, the Concert Series and the Festival Series. Tickets to either of these series can be purchased on either a subscription or single event basis. Ticketron handles the majority of sales, although one may write for information, or to order subscriptions, to: Sinfonia of San Diego, P.O. Box 175, La Jolla, Ca. 92038. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return mail. There is no discount offered on subscriptions, and individual tickets are $8.50, $7.50, $5.50, and $3, with a 50-cent service charge. Call 454-5655 or 276-9022 for further information.
One sometimes gets the impression, mistaken or not, that Spreckels Theatre operations are rather secretive. It is occasionally necessary to make several phone calls before the right information is obtained. But with a little effort, one can find out whatever one wants to know. Ads for programs at the theatre are published in the daily newspapers, and in Applause magazine. Otherwise, general information can be had by writing to: Spreckels Theatre Box Office. 123 Broadway, San Diego, Ca. 92101. The telephone number is 233-6541.
As for parking, there is a lot south of the theatre, and, of course, the surrounding streets. The Spreckels Building has a parking concession, run independently of the theatre, and it costs about $1.25.