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

  • 3/10/2012: B1:

    PC: Brian Wilson, chair of the Sonoma State University music department conducts the SSU brass ensemble orchestra at the Green Music Center, Friday March 9, 2012 in Rohnert Park during the announcement of the inaugural season entertainment line-up at the center. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

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 sizeable 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 Armi?na that we will have a world-class facility," he said.

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