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MasterCard provides $15 million for SSU’s Green Music Center pavilion


Sonoma State University on Tuesday announced a $15 million deal with MasterCard Worldwide to sponsor an outdoor pavilion at the Green Music Center.

The pavilion will enable the music center to host large-scale performances — including jazz, reggae and other international genres, as well as ballet — that draw a sizable audience, said Erik Greeny, interim vice president for university development.

MasterCard Worldwide’s name will be incorporated in the pavilion’s name in perpetuity, but the naming details have not been worked out, he said.

The sponsorship deal also must be approved by the California State University Board of Trustees at its meeting next Tuesday.

SSU said it is the largest sponsorship ever secured by the university, and it was arranged by the Joan and Sandy Weill, the philanthropists who gave SSU its largest cash gift. The Weills will get credit for the MasterCard sponsorship, Greeny said.

The couple gave SSU $12 million last year to complete the Green Music Center, including its signature 1,400-seat Tanglewood-style concert hall named after the Weills.

Sanford “Sandy” Weill is a former chief executive of Citigroup, which he built into the world’s largest bank before the financial meltdown of 2008, and is a nationally recognized philanthropist. The Weills bought a 362-acre estate in the hills west of Sonoma for nearly $31­million in 2010.

Greeny said the MasterCard sponsorship is “just another example of their extraordinary leadership.”

The Weills, both lovers of classical music, have been talking to other patrons of the arts, both private and corporate, about the music center, Greeny said.

“They have a vision shared with Don Green and (SSU President) Ruben Armiñana that we will have a world-class facility,” he said.

Green, a telecom valley pioneer, kicked off the music center project with a $10 million donation. Total cost of the center was pegged last year at $120 million.

Green Music Center’s inaugural 2012-13 season opens the weekend of Sept. 29-30 with performances by concert pianist Lang Lang, the Santa Rosa Symphony and Alison Krauss & Union Station, a bluegrass group.

The Weills’ gift financed completion of the main concert hall. The pavilion, a permanent, all-weather tent structure with seating and landscaping, will be built on the east side of the concert hall. A third venue — the Schroeder recital hall — remains an empty shell and SSU needs $5 million to complete it, Greeny said.

The pavilion will accommodate “more contemporary music,” including performances that involve amplification, he said. It also will be large enough for ballet and symphony pops performances.

Other major contributors to the music center include Jean Schulz, wife of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, $5 million; Evert Person and his wife, Norma, former owners of The Press Democrat, $3 million; telecommunications executive John Webley and his wife, Jennifer, $2.1 million; Herb Dwight, onetime CEO of the former Optical Coating Laboratory and his wife, Jane; $1.2 million; and the Trione Foundation, founded by financier and businessman Henry Trione, $1.1 million.


10 Responses to “MasterCard provides $15 million for SSU’s Green Music Center pavilion”

  1. 20/20 Vision says:

    SSU failed miserably at booking the Fourth of July Green Music Festival. If they can’t pull off something that only happened once a year, what in blazes will they do here? Frightening thought.

    Somebody’s delusions of grandeur here will come back to haunt us.

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  2. TONE DEAF says:

    “A third venue — the Schroeder recital hall — remains an empty shell and SSU needs $5 million to complete it”

    That’s right: the actual space for students’ use at SSU remains unfinished, with dirt floors.

    Arminano and his high-flying cohorts don’t give a crap about education, or students, or learning to make music. They just want another playground for their wealthy buddies to go visit, after drinking up at the overplanted vineyards, on their way to somewhere else on their private tours of the world.

    Students got screwed on this, and the richies and SSU “leaders” couldn’t even be bothered to provide classrooms or the recital hall for them. Then SSU saddled a bunch of programs and departments at SSU with a tithe to pay off the Weill/Green bond debts.

    Rich, privileged jerks are running the SSU show.

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    One of points I’d like to make is that the rich will benefit greatly from this center. I love the kind of events that will be offered BUT I CAN’T AFFORD THE TICKETS. So basicly the rich are supporting the events that they like to attend. I used to be able to afford SF Ballet tickets (just barely) now I can’t so I can’t go. So where are the free tickets being offered to school children, any for the poorer folk like me? I think EVERYONE who wants to should benefit from the arts, but these days you have to have money to participate and enjoy. No freebees anymore.

    I understand that music students at SSU will benefit and that’s a good thing (at least I think they will). They are paying through the nose to attend.

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  4. Skippy says:

    The hatefest continues. I just love the tolerance of the left.
    Mr. and Mrs. Weill should take the $$ they were gonna generously give to SSU and burn it to ashes in front of the building.
    The Occupy mob and their communist supporters will have a cow, but I would pay dearly to watch their faces as Weill’s money becomes CO2 and adds to global warming.
    I would suggest Mr. Weill and the Bohos gathering in Monte Rio equip themselves with armed bodyguards.
    The leeches will soon stop their ineffective stoned protests and start doing what collectivists always do to fundamentally change a society.
    Hint: it is spelled R.I.O.T.
    Expect a long hot autumn.

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  5. RICHARD says:

    The Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard posted a … profit of $1.08 billion, or $8 a share in 2007. – thestreet.com

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  6. Ali says:

    GAJ – Should SSU profit from criminal behavior? You are not alone if you find this hard to answer – is it any wonder than the average citizen has surrendered their autonomy, independence and will to resist in such a pervasively corrupt society and economy? No wonder the average American is busy extending and pretending, remaining passive, quiet and complicit in the corruption. Why put SSU’s slice of the pie at risk when everyone else is getting away with perfectly legal looting, illegal but “enabled” predation and unparalleled financial parasitism enforced by the Central State?

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  7. GAJ says:

    Ali, well I guess they could always cut positions at SSU and/or raise tuition to pay for money they need for this facility…not that this facility was ever a “must do” in the first place.

    Or maybe all Universities should simply REFUSE gifts from the 1% crowd as, obviously, they’re all evil!

    Weill’s not in jail, he’s not going to jail, so why not take his money and hopefully, if he croaks, all his ill begotten gains will support something like SSU.

    Maybe that’ll get him into heaven…but I doubt it!

    He’s going to someplace warm is my guess.

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  8. Ali says:

    GAJ – Since America’s financial and political elites have routinely bypassed, flouted, negated or simply ignored the laws governing mortgages, finance, insider trading, etc., actions that would lead to an average citzen’s arrest, indictment and routine conviction, then we must conclude that America itself is thoroughly, totally, completely, hopelessly corrupt – but hey ” Grab the swag, everyone else does”.

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  9. GAJ says:

    Hey, I think Weill’s a snake as well but the same people who say “tax the evil rich,” (which I agree with…other than the evil part), don’t want to take money from the “truly evil rich” when they and their supporters offer it freely to support the Arts?

    That’s some crazy thinking right there.

    No need to put the snake on a pedestal, with that I agree, but hey, take the freaking money being offered towards a good cause!

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  10. Grey Whitmore says:

    OH, and just when I thought the Weill blood money might be watered down, we find they are the ones behind this.

    What a shame! So many broken lives wrought by Citibank and Sandy Weill.

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