Ed Sheeran performs for a fundraiser at the Rady Shell

SAN DIEGO – Ed Sheeran will perform at a private, ticketed event at the Rady Shell in Jacobs Park on Friday night. Officials cordon off the public promenade where people have historically gathered to watch events.

The San Diego Symphony Orchestra, which operates at the Shell, said it must weigh the possibility of access against the priority of safety for every event and that closure was the best option for public safety inside and outside the venue.

There will be no free Ed Sheeran show right and left along the Rady Shell on Friday night.

Sheeran appears at the San Diego-based nonprofit Curebond for their concert for healing. The private event raises money for cancer research.

The Port of San Diego granted permission to close the public boardwalk around the Shell after receiving a recommendation from the port police chief.

Craig Hall, vice president of marketing and communications for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, said Sheeran’s high profile was one of the driving factors for the closure.

“The capacity of this venue is designed for a maximum capacity of 9,000 people. Even the idea that even a fraction of the many people in the area would want to take a look at it or experience it would likely create a dangerous situation,” said Hall vice president of marketing and communications for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Back in March 2023, the Port of San Diego banned people from sitting on the rocks next to the boardwalk. The boardwalk ban also means people are not allowed to bring large, sidewalk-blocking items like tents and coolers before and during events. However, people could still walk through.

But for Sheeran, San Diego Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief Tony Tosca say a complete closure, including to hikers, will benefit people inside and outside the Rady Shell.

“We need to be able to give people access to evacuate, and we also need to have an emergency entrance to get to people in an emergency,” said Tony Tosca, the San Diego Fire Marshal and deputy chief

The California Coastal Commission, whose goal is to ensure public access to coastlines and public lands, is skeptical.

In a statement, California Coastal Commission Enforcement Director Lisa Haage wrote:

“We received no notice of this closure last week. The Commission is very concerned about access to this area as it is built on state mudflats and is a very popular location. Public access to the shoreline was central to the approval of this facility and we are actively considering this.”

State mudflats are public land. They are held in trust for the public by a state agency called the State Lands Commission, so the land beneath the stadium belongs to the public.

“Understandably, this is a 100% walkable path, but people will continue to walk and that’s okay. I think the challenge sometimes is people stopping and setting up a viewing area and a seating area…so that’s where it starts to get a little cloudy,” Tosca said.

Hall added: “Given the circumstances of today’s event, it was in the best interest of public safety for the people within the venue and those surrounding the venue.”

There are still many public areas where people can hear and see the show, such as the basketball courts, the public park, and the sidewalk from the convention center.

The closure of part of the promenade will be monitored by the venue’s security staff. Port Police officers will be on site to carry out enforcement activities if necessary and ensure the security of the venue. Click here to view the rules for the boardwalk at Shell events.

“We urge the public to adhere to Promenade Rules at this and all events at the Rady Shell. We also encourage people to remember driving and boating safety – do not drink or drive, and if you are on a boat, make sure you have the correct and necessary safety equipment. Our goal and responsibility is to protect the public and ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable waterfront experience at all times,” said Chief Magda Fernandez of the Port of San Diego Harbor Patrol.

The Rady Shell Promenade has already been closed twice: 1) September 2, 2022 due to the Flume concert; and (2) June 17, 2023 for the Seven Lions.

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