S&P lowers Segerstrom Concert Hall bond outlook to 'negative' as funding campaign remains stalled
For nearly 12 years, leaders of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts have struggled to raise the money needed to pay the construction debt on the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
The Costa Mesa venue is still $52 million short of its $240-million campaign goal. A chicken came home to roost on Tuesday when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the investment outlook on the center’s $232.5 million in construction bonds from “stable” to “negative.”
There’s a certain irony in this: At the 1999 public meeting in which officials of what was then known as the Orange County Performing Arts Center announced they were moving ahead with plans to build the venue, they promised that the project would not suffer the fate of L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. At that time Disney was at a standstill because the money had run out, leaving nothing but a hole in the ground filled by a parking garage topped with a concrete slab.
OC officials didn’t reckon that, more than a decade later, their successors would still be trying to dig out of the resulting financial hole. Meanwhile work on Disney Hall resumed at the end of 1999, and it opened in 2003 with its $274-million construction tab fully paid –- save for an additional $10 million tacked on three years later (and covered quickly with further donations) to settle a lawsuit over post-1999 construction delays.
Read more about the latest financial complications rising from the stalled OC campaign: Segerstrom Center facing more financial hurdles
For an account of the events that threw it off track in the first place: The curtain may rise to a shortfall
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times