San Diego Theatres manages, markets, operates and maintains the San Diego Civic Theatre in the heart of downtown and the historic Balboa Theatre in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Built in 1924, the historic Balboa Theatre was an elegant vaudeville and movie palace in the heart of downtown San Diego. At the time, it was a state-of-the-art building that included six storefronts along Fourth Avenue, with 34 offices on the floors above. After a 1934 remodeling, the theatre was reopened as El Teatro Balboa, featuring contemporary films from Mexico City and presenting Latin stars to San Diego’s increasingly diverse audience. During World War II, the theatre’s office space was used by the US Navy. This office space was reconfigured by the U.S. Navy into bachelor quarters for sailors waiting to ship out. After the war, the remodeled spaces became single-occupancy housing.
In 1959, the Russo family of San Diego acquired the building and saved it from potential demolition. They operated it as a action movie house until the City of San Diego purchased it in 1986. Ten years later, the Balboa Theatre Foundation nominated the Theatre to the National Register of Historic Places to save both the interior and exterior of this community asset.
The Balboa Theatre was closed for over twenty years. After numerous proposals to privately renovate or re-purpose the Theatre, the City’s Redevelopment Agency made the commitment in 2002 to retain the Theatre as a public asset and fully fund its $26.5 million restoration and rehabilitation. Integral to that commitment was that the Theatre would be reopened as a community performing arts center to be managed by San Diego Theatres. During the pre-design phase of the restoration planning, Centre City Development Corporation adopted a goal to achieve this ambitious mission:
“To transform the Balboa Theatre into a contemporary performing arts venue treasured by patrons, producers, presenters, performers, and San Diego’s regional community while contributing to redevelopment and the advancement of a vital downtown theatre district. Celebrating its rich history, the Balboa Theatre will be restored in accordance with local application of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings. Visitors will be inspired by its beauty, comfort, flexibility, and functionality. The Balboa Theatre’s transformation will result in a well equipped, fully functioning venue to effectively and efficiently house diverse programs of local, national and international performances and presentations, and community, corporate and convention gatherings. For performing arts and formal gatherings, the historic Balboa Theatre will once again become a venue of preference.”
The City of San Diego’s Redevelopment Agency has invested over $26 million into the Balboa Theatre’s renovation and restoration. This has included extensive seismic retro-fit to meet current requirements, replacement of all infrastructure systems including electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and life safety, ADA accommodations, state-of-the-industry theatrical lighting, audio, rigging and production requirements, and audience accommodations including new seating. The project restored the historic finishes and appearance of the Balboa Theatre while incorporating current audience and production expectations to ensure its use for generations to come.
The historic Balboa Theatre reopened in January 2008 with much acclaim from audiences and performers. Additionally, it has received numerous special awards and recognitions on a local, state, and national professional organizations.
Balboa Theatre operating results for Fiscal Year 2012:
- 73,352 in attendance
- 115 use days
- 78 performances
- $1,129,228.00 in operating revenues
San Diego Civic Theatre
The 2,967 seat San Diego Civic Theatre is the region’s largest and greatest attended performing arts venue. The Civic Theatre is owned by the City of San Diego and is managed and operated by San Diego Theatres on behalf of the community.
Opened in January 1965, the Civic Theatre has hosted the world’s finest talents in the fields of opera, classical music, dance, comedy, contemporary music, and Broadway. Additionally, it has served as a community gathering place for inaugurations, governmental addresses, religious services, political activities, lectures, educational presentations, and corporate meetings.
The Civic Theatre’s primary producers and presenters include the San Diego Opera, Broadway/San Diego, La Jolla Music Society, and California Ballet.
San Diego Civic Theatre operating results for Fiscal Year 2012:
- 282,800 in attendance
- 217 rental days
- 144 performances
- $ 3,805,264.00 in operating revenues
- $923,330 investment in facility improvements, projects & equipment