Groundbreaking Marks New Chapter for Plaza del Mar Band Shell

By the City of Santa Barbara

Construction is underway to renovate the Plaza del Mar Band Shell, a designated City Landmark initially built in 1919. The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department marked the occasion on Wednesday, August 16, with a groundbreaking event that gathered local leaders, project donors, and community members to commemorate the past and celebrate the future of the historic venue.

“This renovation is a testament to Santa Barbara’s commitment to honoring its past while investing in its vibrant future,” said Mayor Randy Rowse.  “This isn’t just about revitalizing a historic landmark; it’s about creating a space where people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests can come together and feel a deep sense of community pride.”

The full-scale renovation includes structural repairs to the building frame, replacement of the roof and wood stage, installation of full electrical service, restoration of the original stage lighting, and construction of an accessible pathway and ramp leading to the stage. The renovation will restore the venue’s long-standing tradition of hosting concerts, performances, festivals, and other cultural gatherings in one of Santa Barbara’s oldest parks. 

“This project is about creating a space where art, music, culture, and community events can flourish,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jill Zachary. “We’re breathing new life into a park that once was the community’s primary waterfront gathering place but has long been underutilized.” 

The Parks and Recreation Department hopes to have the historic venue reopened in Spring 2024 and is partnering with the PARC Foundation and other local organizations to curate a diverse array of free community-led events. Local artists, community groups, and organizations interested in hosting public events at the Band Shell are encouraged to contact the Parks and Recreation Department. Individuals, businesses, and organizations interested in supporting free programming can inquire about sponsorships or donate to the PARC Foundation.  

Funding for the Plaza del Mar Band Shell Renovation Project includes $800,000 in federal funding from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), $275,000 in City funds (General Fund and Measure C), a $177,000 grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and $55,500 in private funding, donated through the PARC Foundation.  Private funding includes $25,000 from the Santa Barbara Foundation, $10,000 from the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, $10,000 from the Tuohy Foundation, $10,000 from Santa Barbara Beautiful, and $500 from private donors. 

More information about the renovation and future programming can be found at

Efforts to restore another historic outdoor venue, the Alameda Park Bandstand, are underway and expected to wrap later this summer.

What do you think?


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  1. I certainly hope that there are plans to have plenty of security in this area. A lot of locals used to go to that park 20 years ago, but in the past 15 years it is not a place “you would take your mother.” The locals who do go there will show up for a bit to let their dogs relieve themselves and puff away on their precious and harmless weed. Simply go there pretty much on any day of the week and you’ll see with your own eyes how that area has gone downhill. It will be nice to get Pershing Park back again into the hands of normal/everyday folks and not those who want to use it for their own drug palace. We’d also like some of our other parks and public areas back too….Santa Barbara, for those of us who have been here for a few years remember when it was a much better place for everyone. Can’t wait to hear live music coming out of “The Shell.”

  2. Sounds like a great idea! That whole area is much nicer now that when I was a kid it seems. Yeah, some homeless live in the park. So? Doesn’t mean we just give up and abandon it. If they get some events going, I think a lot of people will attend. Great venue, just needs some sprucing up.

  3. Yeah, some homeless live in the park. So? Yeah, some homeless live on state st. So? Yeah some homeless live next to the freeway so? Yeahhh some homeless live at Leadbetter so? Yeah some homeless live under the bridge on Cacique st. So? Yeah some homeless live on Hollister ave. So? Yeah some homeless live in Alameda, Chase Palm Park, Shoreline Park, Ortega Park, Rocky Nook Park, East Beach Park, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park ??? So so ??? So sooooo?? Just needs a little sprucing up!!!!!

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