CONCORD, CA (Aug. 24, 2023) — Two years away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of its opening, the Concord Pavilion has a new naming sponsor with the venue now called the Toyota Pavilion at Concord.
The outdoor venue on Kirker Pass Road opened in May 1975 and is now operated by international concert promotion company Live Nation and currently hosts over 1,000,000 visitors a year at concerts and community events. The Concord City Council recently approved an agreement with Live Nation for a 4-1/2-year sponsorship that is estimated to pay the city $613,895.
Concord is receiving 25% of the total revenue Toyota is paying for the naming rights to Live Nation. An estimated $250,000 is coming off the top of the $2.7 million deal to pay for the changing of all signage reflecting the new name around the area and on the Pavilion site.
Toyota can opt out of the agreement after the 2025 season, by which time the city will have received about $304,312. Only $12,500 is coming to Concord in 2023 as the signage costs will all be incurred in the near term.
Sponsorship presentation (Click here)
Opened as the Concord Pavilion, the facility is owned by the city of Concord but has had a contract with Live Nation to operate the venue since 2000, after Bill Graham Presents had run programming there since 1985. From 2000 to 2006 the facility was called the Chronicle Pavilion and from 2006-13 the Sleep Train Pavilion. In the 1970s and 1980s the Concord Pavilion season (but not the venue) was titled with beer sponsors Michelob, Stroh’s and Budweiser.
When the management contract was up for renewal with Live Nation after the 2013 season, then mayor Dan Helix was insistent the venue revert to its heritage title of Concord Pavilion. That was in effect until this July 1 when the name-in-title was changed after Live Nation arranged the sponsorship with the local Northern California Toyota Dealers Association, which comprises 58 local Toyota dealers in the northern half of the state, including Concord Toyota.
That agreement completed in December 2013 guarantees the city a minimum annual payment of $800,000, increasing to $900,000 starting next year. That contract with Live Nation mandates 75 concerts drawing a minimum of 3000 attendance each over every five-year period, including the next five-year extension from 2024-28). That is an average of 15 shows each year, which is exactly the number currently scheduled this season, slated to end Oct. 2 with a Sting concert.
That 2013 contract with Live Nation allowed for a name change should a suitable sponsor be found.
“We’re thrilled to announce Toyota as our partner for this beloved venue,” said Andy Peikon, Live Nation’s Senior Vice President and Head of Venue Sales. “With over 40 years of involvement in the Concord community, this partnership allows Toyota to connect with local fans during memorable live music experiences that matter so much to them.”
Boasting gorgeous views of Mt. Diablo, internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the unique venue and in 1996 oversaw an expansion from its original 8,500 capacity to 12,500 with a mix of seating under the Pavilion roof and surrounding lawn seating.
Over the nearly five decades Pavilion has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment across numerous genres. The list includes Janet Jackson, Iron Maiden, Santana, ABBA, Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, TLC, Garth Brooks, Metallica, Florence & The Machine and a host of dance, theatre and orchestra companies.
The Pavilion was an outgrowth of the Concord Summer Festival which began in 1969 and served as a proof of concept for a permanent performing arts center to be built in Contra Costa’s largest city. The renamed Concord Jazz Festival was a staple in the Pavilion schedule until 2004. In 2019 an all-star 50th Anniversary Concord Jazz Festival concert was held.
In addition to concerts, the venue is a community asset and home to large-scale local events, including nine annual graduations for Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Carondelet high schools. The venue has also been the site of three United States Olympic Trials as well as international and professional boxing, martial arts and wrestling events.
Live Nation explains that the Pavilion also keeps sustainability at the forefront of its operations. A dedicated zero-waste green team oversees source-separating recycling and composting backstage. This contributes to the venue diverting 28,500 pounds of waste from a landfill this season alone. In the past two seasons, the venue diverted a combined 100,460 pounds.
Fans can also access water refill stations as part of the venue’s efforts to reduce single-use plastics.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.