c J Wagner-20230112_180052-02139a-THE SOUND Surfside concert venue at the Del Mar Fairgrounds—new_state-of-the-art_mid-sized_1900-capacity-Press Preview-iPh14PM-1925-6in x 300dpi

THE SOUND concert venue further expands role of state fairgrounds

People have a never-ending, insatiable thirst for more and better entertainment choices in their communities. Today, these choices include movie theater multiplexes, theme parks, sports stadiums, auditoriums and more. State Fairgrounds are a typically underutilized entertainment resource, with plenty of underdeveloped real estate. The Del Mar Fairgrounds is taking steps to address that.

Perhaps best known for thoroughbred racehorse meets on its world-famous track, where the turf meets the surf…

2008 thoroughbred race meet at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

… and the annual San Diego County Fair…

…the Del Mar Fairgrounds — on behalf of the State of California — has been an entertainment resource shared with not only the greater San Diego County community, but with people across the country and around the world.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association (22nd DAA) purchased the coastal land that the Fairgrounds is located on in 1936. The San Diego County Fair (June 7 — July 4, 2023), which dates all the way back to 1880, relocated here, as did the Del Mar Turf Club a year later, “with the famous blue-eyed crooner Bing Crosby welcoming guests through the turnstiles” (https://delmarfairgrounds.com/about-us/). Additionally, throughout the year, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is made available to travelling exhibitions (“Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience:” opens January 27); equestrian events (the inaugural Seaside Equestrian Tour Jan. 25 – March 12), car shows (GoodGuys Del Mar: March 31 – April 2), home and garden shows, and much more, including concerts.

Following three years of construction, THE SOUND is a world-class, 1900-person-capacity, $17 million, mid-size concert venue that will open in February on the northeast corner of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “Seamlessly integrating current design into historic architecture, the new room amplifies the region’s thriving entertainment scene” with a “seaside vibe. Operated by Belly Up Entertainment, THE SOUND “will host an eclectic range of public and private events.”

THE SOUND will open its doors to the public with an already SOLD-OUT concert by reggae-music star and 8-time Grammy winning musician, actor, artist, activist and humanitarian Ziggy Marley on-stage, performing a “special tribute to his father, Bob Marley, who would have turned 78 just a couple of days later.”

Recently, THE SOUND was previewed with a live concert performed by the B-Side Players — a popular, award-winning, San Diego-based band that, since 1994, blends the sounds of Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and Brazil with funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop rhythms (to learn more, visit https://thebsideplayers.com).

The mission-styled Surfside Center’s attributes include plenty of parking, a spacious pre-show area…

…seating on two levels, a large stage and dance floor…


…state-of-the-art audio and lighting equipment…

and an impressive food and beverage service.

“All of us at the 22nd District are thrilled to deliver THE SOUND to every San Diegan,” says Carlene Moore, CEO of the 22nd District. “We’re especially proud to partner with the great people at the legendary Belly Up venue, a long-time San Diego music company, who will undoubtedly curate the new room with local sensitivity. And, what better performer to start off the music at THE SOUND than a legend like Ziggy Marley?”

Carlene Moore & Steve Goldberg at THE SOUND

“So many great bands have played the Belly Up throughout the years, and now THE SOUND provides a really cool next step for these bands as they grow,” says Steve Goldberg, co-owner of the Belly Up.  “It’s a natural progression, right in our backyard, where we’ve been booking shows at the fair and the races for years.   We’re fortunate to be working with such good, professional partners at the Fairgrounds, and we can’t wait to hear the sound of Ziggy Marley coming from this exciting new venue.”

Steve Goldberg & Carlene Moore at THE SOUND

In addition to Ziggy Marley, upcoming concerts include Steve Aoki (February 11)…

…Frias presents Bailazo de San Valentin (February 18), Big Gigantic (February 25), The Flaming Lips (March 6)…

…Jason Mraz with his Superband and Special Guest Gregory Page (March 18 — SOLD OUT), Colin Hay with Special Guest Lazlo Bane (April 7)…

…and Sylvan Esso (September 1).

To learn more about the Del Mar Fairgrounds and THE SOUND Surfside, visit: https://delmarfairgrounds.com and https://delmarfairgrounds.com/the-sound-opens-doors-february-2023-with-ziggy-marley-on-stage/. Sign up for updates, show announcements, presales, and more at thesoundsd.com.

THE SOUND Surfside

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, California. To explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, with the most photos and the latest text, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. Search by title or topic in the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes and browse.

Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #776r3

Jan Wagner


  1. Alberto on January 26, 2023 at 11:18 pm

    Great article n Great photos

    • Jan Wagner on January 27, 2023 at 12:54 am

      Thank you. I took those photos with my iPhone. They look OK but if you zoom in on them, you’ll you’ll see that the resolution is pretty bad. TiPhone is not a replacement for a professional camera.

  2. David Sperry on January 26, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Jan, you seem to be everywhere. The Sound Surfside looks like a first class music center. The facility, concessions, sound system, everything, is of the highest quality and latest technology. Having gone to considerable expense, I’m wondering why The Sound was built to accommodate only 1900 people. It seems the groups that play there can easily draw 1900 people, and most shows are already sold out. In our small city in Central PA, we have a similar music theater with a capacity of 1600 , and it’s generally sold out. You guys have a much bigger population to draw from.

    Was that the B-Side Players you saw? Being a jazz fan, I think I would like that group. David.

    • Jan Wagner on January 26, 2023 at 8:52 pm

      Hi David,
      I often feel like I go everywhere!
      The location for THE SOUND is in an existing building on the Del Mar Fairgrounds that used to be used for off-track betting. That may be why they’ve set the capacity at 1900, or maybe they just thought that was a good number to use. The Belly Up has lots of experience operating that kind of venue in the area.
      Yes, the group performing at the 2-hour preview event was the San Diego band the B-Side Players. I really like their music. To me it seemed like it had a New Orleans sound.

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