With a roof capable of holding at least 250 tons of equipment, the Santa Barbara Bowl will no longer have to turn away the bigger stars for fear of heavy gear falling from the sky.

The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation has raised about $22 million for completion of its Renovation and Restoration Master Plan, with some of the funds going toward the construction of a state-of-the-art stage and higher weight capacity roof for the venue, Executive Director of Operations Sam Scranton said. Dressing rooms, bathrooms, a VIP terrace and concession areas were constructed earlier this year, and further additions will include upgraded seating and a new box office, with the project’s completion set for 2008.

The construction of the new roof, called the Pavilion project, will replace the Bowl’s existing scaffolding and accounts for a large chunk of the renovation funds.

“The foundation has fundraised about $22 million for the master plan,” Scranton said. “About $8 million of that is being spent for the new roof.”

Scranton said the venue was built in the 1930s and it currently holds about 4,500 people, but despite its relatively small capacity, the Bowl has hosted some big-name acts such as Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5 and Jimmy Buffett.

The foundation has been in charge of managing the outdoor amphitheater and all its operations and renovations since 1981, according to the Santa Barbara Bowl website. Run by volunteers, the foundation has made a number of renovations over the past three decades in order to keep the bowl up to date and competitive with other venues in Southern California.

In 1995, the foundation created a 15-year master plan, which includes both short-term and long-term improvement projects for the bowl. Scranton said the old roof needed to be updated, because it was not strong enough to hold heavy weights.

“The scaffolding we had before could only support about 25 tons of equipment,” he said. “The new roof can support 10 to 15 times that.”

Certain acts require a larger amount of gear for their shows. In the past, Scranton said, the Santa Barbara Bowl, located at 1122 N. Milpas St., was forced to reject some performers because the roof could not hold their equipment.

In fact, during the 2006 concert season, Tom Petty was scheduled to play at the Bowl, but his gear exceeded the roof’s weight limit by four tons, thus canceling the performance.

Even though the roof is not yet complete, the Bowl’s concerts will continue this summer as scheduled.

“The roof won’t be completed until two to three months from now,” Scranton said. “But it will be done enough to have our first show on June 22.”

According to the Bowl’s website, the first show will feature Norah Jones and the Handsome Band. Throughout the summer, other acts such as Gwen Stefani, the Goo Goo Dolls, Incubus and Snow Patrol are scheduled to perform.

The construction, which is scheduled to be finished in 2008, can be viewed via web cam on the Bowl’s website at www.sbbowl.com.