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Stanford to build new 900-seat concert hall

Original post made on Oct 24, 2007

A 900-seat concert hall will be built at Stanford University as the cornerstone of a new performing arts center, President John Hennessy announced today.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 10:35 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:33 am

Had we had the foresight, and been able to work with Stanford, this facility could have been located in PA.


Posted by Too much traffic, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:58 am

The city of PA and the city council needs to look into this. Can Stanford just go ahead and build it? Don;t they need the okay of the city council? Doesn't the Planning and Transportation Committee need to nit pick it? What about input of the citizens of PA?
What about if this creates too much traffic? What about noise??
The PA process needs to be invoked before this is built.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:23 pm

The sad thing is that PA was missing in action re: partnering with Stanford for a performing arts center that BOTH communities needed.

Stanford, of course, has the cash to move on its own, but that doesn't mean that some aggressive reaching-out wouldnt have led to small jewel in both our crowns.

The performing arts center (the entire complex) could have been built across from the Mall.

This is a perfect example of our lack of partnering ability with neighboring municipalities, with results that impact our destiny for DECADES.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Mike,

Yoriko doesn't like Stanford. Why are you surprised that there is no cooperation.

BTW, when you say "could have been built across from the Mall", where are you talking about (El Camino Park, or next to Hoover Pavilion, or some other spot?).


Posted by Marvin and Alison Lee, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Stanford has a ways to go to catch up with Berkeley's Cal Performances. It would,however, be well worth the effort for everyone. See Web Link

/ Marvin and Alison Lee


Posted by Marvin and Alison Lee, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Stanford has a ways to go to catch up with Berkeley's Cal Performances. It would,however, be well worth the effort for everyone. See Web Link / Marvin and Alison Lee


Posted by Karen White, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2007 at 2:03 pm

The City of Palo Alto has no funds to partner with Stanford on a performing arts center. That a world-class facility will be built a few blocks away from where it might otherwise have been constructed is hardly "sad" or indicative of a lapse on anyone's part.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 3:32 pm

"The City of Palo Alto has no funds to partner with Stanford on a performing arts center. That a world-class facility will be built a few blocks away from where it might otherwise have been constructed is hardly "sad" or indicative of a lapse on anyone's part."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Read Stanford President John Hennessey's ststement in the following link - the part where he says "making the center a joint venture with Palo Alto "probably exceed the benefits."" There's a lot implied in that statement.
Web Link

We have a small core of people around here who think Palo Alto is their personal bonsai tree. They want to keep this place alive, but pruned compulsively to their exact liking. That isn't going to fly around here any more, not if most of the (many) people I talk to have a say (who are sick and tired of a small interest groups robbing this city, and their future, of opportunity)

Perhaps Ms. White didn't notice that the Bings contributed $50M for the center.

Given that Theatreworks was in on the initial set of informal talks (check out the Theatreworks Board for a stellar set of fundraising names [who have a network), one can EASILY imagine a project that would have sat across from the MALL and added prestige and OPPORTUNITY to Palo Alto.

Ms. White doesn't think that "being a few blocks away (it's more like almost a mile) will make a difference. Tell me, Ms. White, how many people flock from the Cantor Art Museum to downtown? Imagin a Performing Arts Center practically IN our downtown, and what that would have meant. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I am not one to jump on Frank Benest, but if there is one OBVIOUS failing that his administration has had - FULLY backed by this and prior Councils - it's the failure to aggressively develop substantial public/private partnenrships for our city. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Imagine what a MAGNET a performing arts center would have been on the fields across from Stanford Mall.

Imagine? That word is not in the vocabulary of some. It's been permanently displaced by the word "can't".

So, Palo Alto will now have access to a performing arts center that is not AT ALL identified with our city, has nothing whatsoever - or very little - to do with local cultural opportunities that a a joint partnership would have brought, and very likely lost the opportunity to bring in a theatre company that has sent first runs to broadway, and is making fast headway as possibly the very best professional theatre company in Northern California (including ACT, in San Francisco).

It's an opportunity lost, Ms. White, just like so many other opportunities that have been frittered away because people of attenuated vision have had too much influence in our city, for too long.

Sadly, I don't see a near-term end to this kind of thinking in our city. Too many of our city council candidates (Greg Schmid comes to mind) want to retro-build our city into the mold of a nostalgic daydream. That's what's sad.

I wish Stanford well, at least they know what they want, and know what they have to do to get it. Palo Alto needs to take a course in the latter.



Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 3:40 pm

"a performing arts center would have been on the fields across from Stanford Mall"

Mike,

Are you talking about El Camino Park?


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm

yes, that was one of the proposed, and favored, locations


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Mike,

Are you in a fog? El Camino is a park that is used by MANY more PA citizens than a theatre ever would be. If you were talking about the Eucalyptus grove across from Town and Country, that might make some sense, especially if there was underground parking to accomodate theatre and football parking.

Hint: Don't touch playing fields and parks in Palo Alto...you will then be taken somewhat more seriously.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:24 pm

The Eucalyptus grove was another potential location...


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm

btw, you might be surprised by how much support a playing field conversion to a performing arts center might have made, assuming other "gifts" to the city. Think big, for a change...


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Mike,

You can dream on all you want. There is NO WAY playing fields are going be sacrificed for your "think big" dreams. The votes are not there...not even close. However, if you want to consider putting playing fields on top of (or underneath or in dual use parking lots), you may get somewhere. Berkely does some of this.

Palo Alto will certainly benefit from the new theatre, as we usually do whenever Stanford does something cool. From a purely selfish viewpoint, it will increase my property values! Damn, I love Stanford!


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 6:00 pm

YOU would have loved Stanford AND your city even more, had we been able to generate that performing arts center here.

Do you have any idea how much working and taxable revenue can be generated from a strategically located performing arts center? Do you have any idea how much peripheral revenues would have resulted from Stanford Mall, and the new hotel in the mall - or the natural resonance with Downtown?

How about the prestige associated with something like that - not just at the regional level, but in concert with the potential to bring in world class acts (like Zellerbach, or SF Performances, something Stanford's Lively Arts program is still not up to the standard of).

How about MORE playing fields as a part of the package? That could have been easily worked out.

How about more arts opportunities in our community, as a result of that effort - including arts education supplements to PAUSD?

And on, and on...

We missed a BIG opportunity, one that was left to twist in the wind because we were too busy congratulating ourselves on how precious our fast-losing-regional-and-world influence municipality is. Sad.


Posted by Marvin Lee, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Is there some reason the Palo Alto on line will not publish the web site for Cal Performances which we included in our email. The comparison with Stanford / Palo Alto presentation arts is striking if one visits their web site. Web Link

Clearly Stanford and Palo Alto have their work cut out to match the high standard set by Cal Performances.

Marvin Lee


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 7:04 pm

"How about MORE playing fields as a part of the package? That could have been easily worked out."

Mike,

You gotta get specific on that one. Where, exactly, would those playing fields go? The devil is in the details, as usual....


Posted by Araj Turos, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Combining a performce center proposition with playing fields - that's another one of those 'only in Palo Alto' inane ideas.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 9:42 pm

John,

I'm not at liberty to tallk about this, beyond what has already been discussed. It's a moot point now. The same possibilities (incentives) may exist in another time, and place.

Later...


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Mike,

Hmmm...some mystery!

Let me guess...playing fields for Palo Alto on Stanford land in a mutual exchange of common interests? Since the Mayfield deal followed that model, but is a done deal, is there another one in the pipeline? Actually, it makes sense.


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:41 am

I'm with Mike, this is a shame it didn't happen in a way that would have benefited both PA and Stanford. We need performing arts venues.


Posted by Let-Stanford-Build-It, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 1:29 pm

According to Wikipedia, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles,
upon completion in 2003, had cost an estimated $274 million. The Hall seats about 2,300 people and has underground parking, which was supposed to cost about $90M. It would seem that a 900 seat hall would cost at least $100M. Palo Alto would have to share in the costs, which would seem to be nominally half, or at least $50M (meaning $100M once the bond interest was paid).

Presumably Palo Alto would get its money back (over time), and then some. If the Hall is successful, and Palo Alto gets its money back--maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing. But if it does not draw the necessary patrons, where will the money come from to retire Palo Alto's share of the bonds?

Then there is the issue of "co-management". Stanford is a private entity. It really doesn't want to have its "partner" demanding that the SIEU be involved in every decision made, or that the Hall become "green" and not provide parking, or encourage patrons to take public transportation to Hall events in order to accommodate some silly agenda of one or two elected officials.

If this Hall is built with private money, the public will be invited to attend these events. Putting the issue of traffic aside, Palo Alto will benefit from the building of this Hall by Stanford without having to become involved.


Posted by Duddie, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 25, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Let Stanford Build It has it right.

There is no reason for the City, which has plenty of infrastructure on its plate right now and has shown a remarkable inability to manage public facilities, to be involved in the building and operation of the concert hall. This is especially true since the hall will exist within yards of the city limits - giving us all the benefits (ability for residents to attend performances, spending by patrons on meals and lodging, etc.), without any of the costs of running it.

Apart from the laughably futile attempt to aggrandize what's essentially a nice little suburban town (a category within which the mayor's global warming policies also fit) those who lament that this facility isn't actually "in" our city are mostly harmless gadflies. But it would be nice if some of them would give some attention to the very real problems of our city.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2007 at 1:51 pm

More bonsaid thinking from a poster who hasn't bothered to look into possibilities, or properly thought things through.

First, the performing arts center is a *done* deal. So it doesn't matter what I think could have been done, or what you want done. It's over, and the opportunity is *gone*. Kiss a huge revenue and crown jewel possibility "bye-bye".

The fact is that Stanford managed a single $50M donation toward the center. Wouldn't you think that more would be on the way? Well, guess what? More is on the way. Are you telling me that the prestigious board at TheatreWorks, in addition to the more financially able folks in our town, wouldn't have been able to come up with the rest, if Palo Alto had been involved?

SIEU? What are you talking about? Must we continue to have the paranoia of little minds, and their outsized fears about the unions (which would have had *nothing* to do with a privately built arts center that was *encouraged and facilitated by public interests)?

Traffic? What traffic? We're going to see traffic *anyway*, as people go straight to the performing arts center and back out again - with a goodly number of them continuing home, or to other communities for follow up gatherings, and food. We'll get some of the latter, but not as much as we would have had if we had a center on El Camino, with tie-ins to downtown.

There would have been MANY other advantages to having this center attached to Palo Alto - arts education, a venue for local artists, film festivals, etc. etc.

Some of these things will happen, but they will NOT happen with Palo Alto's good name attached. We blew a BIG opportunity.


Posted by Carly, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Why do we need a concert hall when we've already got good examples of what kind of world class art can be produced with city involvement. Check out the "Colors of Palo Alto" for example! Web Link


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Duddie,

Go do some research on what combined performing arts centers can mean to a community - in terms of cultural exposure, education, etc. etc.

This would have primarlity been a *private* undertaking, *facilitated* by our city. We lost BIG on this one.


Posted by Carly, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Why do we need a concert hall when we've already got good examples of what kind of world class art can be produced with city involvement. Check out the "Colors of Palo Alto" for example! Web Link


Posted by Abigale Donaldson, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Those arguing that the city should have been more involved in this so that its "good name" could be attached are being parochial and silly.

All the benefits to the city allegedly associated with a "Palo Alto World Class Concert Hall) will be realized by the "Rich Stanford Donor World Class Concert Hall".

Why in the the donors of the funds for this hall would think it useful to be "facilitated" by Frank Benest's employees is a total mystery.

Duddie is right: the city has enough to do keeping up with filling potholes and finding a place to put library books without trying to stage concerts too. Both the city and the Performance Hall will be better off without the city being involved. This is a bit win for us all.


Posted by Let-Stanford-Build-It, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:36 pm

> We blew a BIG opportunity.

Nothing posted by anyone supporting Palo Alto's involvement in this project proves any benefit to Palo Alto over what it will obtain with Palo Alto's not being involved.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Likewise for those posting against PA involvement.

If you want proof of advantage, go take a look at the many, many successful collaborations between unicersityies and neighboring communities in performing arts centers, etc.

Listening to naysayers won't profit anyone


Posted by I'm a naysayer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 3:33 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by naysayer Slayer, a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 25, 2007 at 3:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Gladys, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Why should Palo Alto pay for something which Stanford is building for us for free. Makes no sense. Let Stanford do their thing and enjoy!!!


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