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  • VC Star | Ventura County Star

    Moorpark College amphitheater project lands Pat Benatar for fundraiser

    By Dave Mason, Ventura County Star,


    The Moorpark College Foundation will host its first major fundraising event for the school's proposed amphitheater on June 29 with an open-air performance by rock legend Pat Benatar and husband Neil Giraldo.

    Admission for the on-campus event, which includes a gourmet dinner, begins at $500.

    Already, about $3 million has been raised for the project since the foundation started accepting donations in 2023, said Debi Klein, the college’s director of institutional advancement and community relations who is also the foundation's chief development officer.

    The 4,000-seat amphitheater is planned for a hilly lawn between the library and gym. The stage would be at the bottom of the hill. The project was publicly announced in October 2022.

    Estimated costs for the venue, initially estimated at $35 million, have since risen to about $45 million-$50 million. Klein said the growing price tag hasn't impacted fundraising.

    The facility will host headliners for all kinds of music, community organizations such as the New West Symphony and performances by Moorpark College music, drama and dance students, Klein said.

    The site could also be used for talks by staff at the college's Teaching Zoo and from other departments.

    Some residents expressed concern about noise during a 2023 town hall meeting hosted by the college, Klein said.

    But the college didn't receive complaints despite loud music during the New West Summerfest, she said, which took place in June 2023 in the same outdoor location. The event featured the New West Symphony and rock, country, ethnic and mariachi bands.

    During the festival, Klein visited a parking lot elsewhere on campus. She couldn't hear the music, she said.

    To preserve the college's open-campus feel, plans call for no walls on the amphitheater's sides or back. Temporary fencing could rise during performances.

    The college has discussed other ideas with Agoura Hills-based Amador Whittle Architects, but details haven't been finalized, Klein said.

    A rectangular shell for the stage is now being considered instead of a Hollywood Bowl-like round shell depicted in an earlier rendering. Round shells work well for orchestras, Klein said, but rectangular versions are better for rock headliners' sound equipment and lights.

    Before being built, the amphitheater project would require approval from the California Division of the State Architect, said Cathy Bojorquez, an interim vice chancellor for the Ventura County Community College District.

    When the time comes to review the project's plans, the process could take nine to 15 months, she said.

    Approval would not be required by a city body because the college is within the jurisdiction of the community college district, said Doug Spondello, Moorpark's community development director.

    Pat Benatar to hit stage for Moorpark College amphitheater fundraiser

    Benatar and Giraldo will perform during the fundraiser, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 29 at the plaza outside the Gymnasium Building, 7075 Campus Road.

    Those attending the event, which will include two music groups composed of Moorpark College students, will buy table seating ranging from $5,000 for 10 seats up to $50,000 for a table of 40. A limited number of individual tickets for $500 are also being sold.

    The fundraiser is intended to bring in $250,000 for the project's planning efforts, Klein said.

    Klein said she and others from Moorpark College became inspired to recruit Benatar and Giraldo after seeing them perform at the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles. Klein recalled Benatar saying on stage she enjoys singing in amphitheaters.

    For tickets and more information, go to

    Dave Mason covers East County for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached or 805-437-0232.

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