SF Masonic Rechristened

 in San Francisco – formerly known as Nob Hill Masonic Center – has undergone a transformation over the summer, after years of haggling between neighborhood groups, a planning commission and promoter Live Nation. Now, it’s ready for its close-up.

Photo: Courtesy Live Nation
The Masonic in San Francisco has a new name to go with its makeover, shown here in an artists rendering. The historic venue reopens Sept. 19 with Beck.

After an eight-month, multimillion-dollar improvement project, the 3,200-seat Masonic has a Sept. 19 debut with Beck followed by a stellar lineup of shows that includes highly coveted bookings such as Chrissie Hynde and .

The name’s been changed “to emphasize that this is a San Francisco venue,” Live Nation SF President Jodi Goodman told Pollstar. “It is a luxury to have a venue of this size in the heart of SF where you can see the city from the hill it rests on, maybe travel by cable car to the venue and in essence experience the history and charm of San Francisco. The close proximity to great hotels and restaurants are added features for fans and artists.” Fans and artists will notice new features inside, too. Live Nation added additional points of sale, flexible tiered floor space, new lighting and rigging, flooring, artwork, sound system acoustics and fresh paint.

Back-of-house amenities for artists include new dressing rooms, and a catering area with a lounge, guest area and VIP room. The sound was engineered for the room with a newly designed four-cluster D&B V series PA system with “extra bells and whistles that make it the most versatile PA on the market,” Goodman said. “Sound quality was extremely important to us as it is central to how people enjoy the room. Our lighting rig from Impact Lighting is top grade quality and offer tours the best options for their shows.

“Several managers have already commented on how great the room feels. Even in the last row of the balcony, the view and sightlines to the stage are unusually close,” Goodman said. Food and beverage service gets an upgrade, too. “We will have a really enjoyable menu for eating on the quick with easy to eat, creative food choices for the pre- and during-concert hungries,” Goodman explained, adding that the dining experience is aesthetic, too.

“The lobbies where several of the bars are located have a floor-to-ceiling endomosaic mural as a backdrop. This art installation is a true reflection of being in a Masonic Temple, a true and unique conversation piece that speaks to its origins.” Respect for the building’s history is a key component of the upgrade, and another issue neighbors were uneasy about. Live Nation proposed a major overhaul of The Masonic some six years ago, but ran into opposition from powerful neighborhood associations, two of which sued over the project.

After years of negotiations, the associations and San Francisco’s Planning Commission signed off on the upgrades in November. Goodman believes the outcome was worth all the frustration, time and money spent to ensure happy neighbors.

Keeping The Masonic in Live Nation’s Bay Area portfolio didn’t hurt, either. “We have been doing shows here for many years, even prior to the long-term lease, and early on had a vision for a more modern and flexible use of the space,” Goodman said. “It was obvious to us it could be a premier mid-size venue in the Bay Area. “There was so much more talent that could come through the space and play a bigger role in the live entertainment culture of San Francisco if we could redesign the space. We knew there could ultimately be a happy medium with the neighbors and the community. It just took a while to build trust and the mutual understandings and support to get there.”

Projects adjacent to residential neighborhoods naturally create concerns and require mitigation of traffic, noise, curfew and cleanliness issues. Live Nation created a new traffic and parking plan to reduce the time cars and trucks spend on streets near the venue, and added extra security and staffing outside the venue to keep people moving and away from residences. The plan paid off with the approval that allows Live Nation to stage up to 79 concerts, comedy shows and special events annually.