San Diego Convention Center’s new Sails Pavilion lights up the San Diego skyline.
The long-awaited renovation of the San Diego Convention Center’s iconic sails pavilion is now complete, but it comes with an unexpected bonus: colored lights that will illuminate the city’s skyline.
The $16.7 million redo of the center’s sails pavilion, including the new fabric roof, concrete flooring, lighting and water cannons for fire suppression, officially debuted this week, following a nine-month-long construction process.
The biggest part of the project was replacing the tattered fabric covering and installing a new supporting cable system for the rooftop, a glass-enclosed space that spans 90,000 square feet.
What wasn’t expected is a new LED system that has the capability of lighting up the rooftop sails in a variety of colors that can even be synchronized to music.
Installed at a cost of $377,000, the lighting feature is being touted primarily as a way to give San Diego a competitive edge when luring groups to bring their meetings here. What hasn’t been decided yet, though, is how much the Convention Center Corp. would charge customers if they want a customized, multi-hued lighting presentation.
The electrical costs are minimal, but what is costly is the computer programming work that goes into customizing various lighting patterns.
The overall replacement of the 29-year-old sail structure was the most costly of the repair projects the center is funding with the help of a $25.5 million loan from the state of California's revolving infrastructure fund that will require yearly payments of $1.6 million over the next 25 years, starting in 2019.
The loan covers all but the new lighting system, which was paid for from the convention center corporation’s reserves. Those reserves have grown considerably since 2015 when they had dwindled to just $1.7 million.
Board president Gil Cabrera said he believed the expense was a worthwhile investment.
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