11:10 AM

Years Later, Business Students' Work Pays Off in New Concert Venue

By Brian Hiro

On Friday, a new concert venue will open in Del Mar with a performance by reggae star Ziggy Marley, an eight-time Grammy winner.

The Sound is a $17 million facility with a footprint of 9,500 square feet and capacity for 1,900 spectators. Open to all ages, it features a state-of-the-art sound system, multiple bars and a large lobby, among other amenities.

And The Sound owes at least part of its existence to a group of Cal State San Marcos business students who attended the university almost a decade ago.

Back in 2016, two groups of students in the College of Business Administration worked for months on a comprehensive study that proposed the transformation of a struggling off-track betting facility at the Del Mar Fairgrounds into the region’s newest concert venue.

One group was composed of five students who were finishing their MBA program; the other included five undergraduates (and one MBA advisory student) completing an assignment for Senior Experience, a longtime CoBA program matching teams of students with projects submitted by local businesses and organizations. Both groups were supervised by marketing lecturer Don Sciglimpaglia.

After reviewing the students’ analysis and agreeing with its findings, the organization that operates the fairgrounds consented in early 2017 to spending up to $250,000 to investigate potential funding sources for the renovation of the Surfside Race Place and hire an engineering firm to develop more detailed plans.

“The work they did was excellent,” Tim Fennell, CEO of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, said at the time.

The association considered multiple options to remake the aging Surfside Race Place (built in 1991) – including a restaurant, movie theater and even a microbrewery – but settled on a concert venue based in no small part on the study by the CSUSM students.

The original plan was for the venue to open in 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic and other obstacles delayed the unveiling by five years. Now The Sound is here, and the students who helped make it happen are thrilled.

Debbie Jo McCool, who led the five students from the Fully Employed Masters of Business Administration (FEMBA) team, said she missed out on getting tickets for the debut concert on Friday, but that she and her classmates hope to attend an upcoming show.

“It’s a dream come true for us,” said McCool, a management analyst for the City of Carlsbad. “Knowing that our team had the privilege of preparing a concert venue marketing analysis and the project came to fruition years later is fantastic. I’m confident that the entire FEMBA team is proud of being associated with this superb project, and we wish them the very best of success.”

Media Contact

Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist

bhiro@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7306