A permanent downtown discount-ticket center will become reality next year, San Diego Theatre League officials announced at a Wednesday press conference.
With a gift of $75,000 by The Times' San Diego County Edition and Times Mirror Foundation, league President William Purves said he expects construction to begin in early 1988.
"The Times is committed to San Diego's downtown redevelopment and to the arts," said Phyllis Pfeiffer, general manager of The Times' San Diego County Edition.
The ticket center, which will carry The Times' name, will be near the Robinson's department store at Horton Plaza and Glendale Federal Savings, south of Horton Plaza Park.
Last year, the Theatre League, a nonprofit trade association of local theater producers, opened a temporary ticket center in the lobby of the Spreckels Theatre. The booth offers advance tickets at full price and day-of-performance tickets at half price to more than 70 theater, music and dance venues in San Diego County. It also offers tickets to performances in Orange and Los Angeles counties through the TicketMaster system.
Purves said the league has sold more than 30,000 tickets from the temporary center in the year and a half since it opened, and returned more than $350,000 to participating arts organizations. Purves expects the permanent ticket booth to return more than $400,000 a year.
The Times' donation supplements a $25,000 challenge grant made in September by the Centre City Development Corp., the City of San Diego's redevelopment arm.
"This particular grant appeals to us because we were able to make a difference," Pfeiffer said.
She said the grant for the ticket booth is part of The Times' plan to play a greater role in San Diego area affairs.
"We're a major employer in San Diego," she said. "We employ 250 people and 200 more who are carriers. We will become more visible as a newspaper as well as a community participant."
Since opening its San Diego County Edition, Times circulation in the county has grown to "about 60,000" on weekdays and 66,000 on Sundays, Pfeiffer said.
The site of the ticket center was donated by the Hahn Company, developer of the retail center. Developer Ernest Hahn, who was at the press conference, noted that the environment of Horton Plaza Park has changed in recent years.
"Four years ago, most of the occupants were horizontal and more vocal," Hahn said of the park's former reputation as a center for transients. "Today, you see (the occupants) reading the Wall Street Journal."
Purves said he hopes to see the ticket booth, designed by the architectural firm of Shorn and Kaminiski, open in time for the summer theater season.