The Irvine (Calif.) City Council unanimously approved the application put forth by FivePoint Holdings and Live Nation Entertainment to build a 12,000-seat interim outdoor amphitheater adjacent to Orange County Great Park in Irvine to replace the 35-year-old Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, which closed last fall.
Live Nation Entertainment will finance, design and build the amphitheater. FivePoint, on behalf of the property owner, Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC, owns the property, which sits on approximately 45 acres next to the Orange County Great Park, at the end of the historic runways of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. The interim facility will be less than two miles from the old Irvine Meadows Amphitheater.
“In front of a cheering audience, the Irvine City Council unanimously approved the plan put forth by FivePoint and Live Nation Entertainment to build and operate an interim outdoor amphitheater,” said Steve Chrum, chief communications officer, FivePoint Holdings. “It will have 12,000 seats and 4,000 parking spots as well as concession and hospitality offerings.”
“FivePoint is providing the land, prepping the land and providing logistical support and Live Nation will construct and operate the venue,” said Churm.
Live Nation hopes to have the temporary facility up and running by summer 2017. Historically, the old amphitheater started programming in May and went through October. “Live Nation should be able to program a half-season in 2017, starting in early August,” said Churm. “Next year Live Nation will have the opportunity to start running shows in April.”
The hoped-for next step is to build a permanent amphitheater on city-owned land in Orange County Great Park. “The City of Irvine’s master plan for the Great Park calls for a permanent outdoor amphitheater in the ‘cultural terrace’ portion of the park on city land,” said Churm.
This interim venue has been championed by fans, city officials and area business leaders, including the Save Live Music Irvine movement, which represents nearly 35,000 fans. Organizers formed Save Live Music Irvine in August 2016 to bring attention to Irvine Meadows closing and build momentum for a new venue in Irvine.
Outside the city council chambers Tuesday evening, several hundred supporters wearing the red Save Live Music Irvine T-shirts rallied before entering City Hall for the hearing.
In addition, a diverse coalition of community organizations and leaders, including Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Irvine Police Association; Irvine Public Schools Foundation; Irvine United School District; Local 504 IATSE; Orange County Pacific Symphony and Orange County Business Council, submitted written recommendations to the Irvine City Council outlining their support for the project.
“The goal was always to continue the 35-year tradition of live summer music in Orange County,” said Churm.
The rationale behind building a temporary site, rather than diving straight into a permanent site, is keeping continuity for Irvine’s live music fans. “We’ve operated the Irvine Amphitheater for many, many years and put on many great shows there, and the citizens of Irvine and Orange County love to go to shows. The temporary venue will continue the tradition and allows fans to keep seeing great shows while the city figures out what they want to do next,” said Bret Gallagher, president of Southern California Live Nation.
A budget has not been established yet for the temporary amphitheater. “It will be a little smaller than the current amphitheater because it will not have a lawn,” said Gallagher. There is also no timetable in place for when a permanent venue will be built. “The city council needs to make all those decisions.”
Churm said that the project was being modeled after The America’s Cup Pavilion, a Live Nation interim facility that worked well near the waterfront in San Francisco.
Churm also said that FivePoint is working with the city to conduct a traffic study. “We are looking at two routes to get to the venue. One is from Chinon, next to Portola High School. The other is from Cadence Street off Great Park Boulevard, formerly Trabuco Road. The proposed location is about 1,000 feet from the Irvine train station, and the plan is to create a direct path from the station to the amphitheater.
“We’re thrilled the plan passed and are looking forward to seeing the project completed so Orange County residents can once again enjoy great outdoor shows in Irvine,” Churm said.