SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, also known as SPAC, attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. For over 50 years, SPAC has hosted more than a thousand performances from artists across all genres.

Here is the history of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. All information is from the SPAC website.

In February 1962, the SPAC project was announced by State Conservation Commissioner Harold  Wilm with the support of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. A large-scale, capital campaign was then launched in Saratoga Springs. 

Governor Rockefeller broke ground on the amphitheater in June 1964. The parking lots were designed to fit 5,000 cars. Construction officially began on the amphitheater in October.

SPAC was dedicated to Governor Rockefeller on June 16, 1966 and the center officially opened about a month later. From July 8 to July 31, the New York City Ballet had 21 performances at SPAC. This was the first time in history a ballet company had a permanent home.

In August 1966, The Philadelphia Orchestra had its first performance at SPAC. They performed Overture from Beethoven’s “The Consecration of the House,” conducted by Eugene Ormandy. In 1967, SPAC’s first special event concert was held with Harry Belafonte performing.

The first joint performance of the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra was held in August 1971. In 1978, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov made his New York City Ballet debut at SPAC.

Seven attendance records were set in 1983, including best season ever with 537,754 total attendees. In June 1984, the Grateful Dead set the concert attendance record of 37,801. 

In 1985, Philip Glass was featured as SPAC’s first ever Composer in Residence. And in 2014, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center had its inaugural season as SPAC’s third resident company, alongside the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

SPAC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. Located within the 2,400-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, SPAC continues to be “one of America’s most prestigious summer festivals.”