Del Mar Fairgrounds’ new $17 million concert venue, The Sound, sets February opening with Ziggy Marley

The Sound, the new 1,900-capacity concert venue at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, will open with shows by Ziggy Marley on Feb. 3-4.
(Jason McClain)

The Del Mar Fairgrounds’ new $17 million concert venue, which has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, now has an official name and opening date.

The Sound will debut with performances Feb. 3-4 by reggae music star Ziggy Marley, whose 2021 San Diego performance was a stadium show at Petco Park.

The new venue will have a capacity of 1,900 and be open to all ages. It is at the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, occupying the former site of the Race Place off-track betting facility.

Marley’s Feb. 3 concert is already sold out. Tickets for the Feb. 4 show are on sale at

The Sound will be operated by Belly Up Entertainment, the booking and marketing division of the Belly Up concert venue in Solana Beach. The company also books shows at other San Diego venues.

“Having The Sound means more touring bands will come to San Diego who have outgrown [smaller] venues but are not big enough yet to play an arena show here,” said Belly Up Entertainment President Chris Goldsmith. “I think this could be a game-changer that brings a lot of artists who otherwise would not play here.”

Those sentiments are seconded by Goldenvoice/AEG San Diego President John Wojas, whose company books the 1,450-capacity Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on Shelter Island and has produced concerts at Copley Symphony Hall, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park and other area venues.

“I’m excited about The Sound and think it will do well,” Wojas said. “There’s been a void in San Diego for venues of this size, and the fact they will book a lot of different genres of music is really welcome.”

“I think this could be a game-changer that brings a lot of artists who otherwise would not play here.”

— Belly Up Entertainment President Chris Goldsmith

The Del Mar Fairgrounds entered into conversations about opening a concert venue there in 2016 and subsequently awarded a contract to Belly Up Entertainment.

But the fairgrounds retreated from that partnership in 2018 after the producers of the now-defunct KAABOO Del Mar threatened to move to another location if the contract to the new venue went to Belly Up. The fair’s board then announced it would book shows at what is now The Sound on its own.

The apparent demise of KAABOO — which last took place in 2019 and is now the subject of multiple lawsuits — led to the fairgrounds bringing back Belly Up. The initial contract calls for Belly Up to act as The Sound’s managing promoter for the next 10 years.

“We’re especially proud to partner with the great people at the legendary Belly Up venue, a longtime San Diego music company, who will undoubtedly curate the new room with local sensitivity,” Del Mar Fairgrounds Chief Executive Carlene Moore said in a statement. “And what better performer to start off the music at The Sound than a legend like Ziggy Marley?”

Marley won’t be the first performer at The Sound, though he will be the first since the venue’s new name was announced. San Diego’s Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra performed three concerts there in October when the site was temporarily called The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“Those were a prelude to our February opening,” Goldsmith said. “I went to the first two Mainly Mozart concerts and was over-the-moon happy with how well they went and how good they sounded in the new venue.”

The Sound

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.

Size: 7,500 square feet on the main floor, 2,000 square feet on the upper level

Capacity: 1,900 for general admission concerts, including 200 reserved seats upstairs and 100 downstairs. Capacity for seated-only concerts is 800.

Stage size: 43 feet wide and 32 feet deep

Amenities: Five bars — four on the main floor, one upstairs — with light food items

Age limit: All ages for all shows

Parking: $10 for general lot; preferred parking options to be announced

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.