IRVINE, CA (CelebrityAccess) – Irvine City Council members are moving ahead with a publicly financed amphitheater in the heart of the Great Park despite resident concerns.
Discussions to bring a permanent entertainment venue to Great Park have been in place since 2016, when Irvine Meadows closed its doors after 35 years. The 12,000-capacity FivePoint Amphitheatre was then opened but was always meant to be a temporary location, with plans to break down the venue eventually and convert the area to housing moving forward.
According to the Voice of OC, city manager Oliver Chi praised the deal, pointing to projections from a city consultant that it would generate over $30M in local business revenue and create over 400 jobs along with paying the city over $4M each year.
“We didn’t find any municipally operated facilities with a return rate as high as what we’re contemplating,” Chi said.
Many residents said while they weren’t against a new amphitheater, they were concerned over the lack of details in the city’s proposal to give it the green light, asking why it didn’t go through any of the city’s commissions for a review. Councilman Larry Agran, who was the sole vote against the proposal, agreed and called for the approval to be delayed until more studies were completed.
“I would like to see this go back to staff and get some serious additional work done before rushing it through this body,” Agran said.
Other council members disagreed.
“Nothing, at all, has been rushed. I want to make that perfectly clear, and I’ll say it again. Nothing has been rushed,” said Councilwoman Tammy Kim responding to Agran’s comments.
The new 14,000-seat amphitheater would be set at the center of the Great Park and would be paid for by the city but operated by Live Nation (LN). LN would be responsible for running the daily operations, purchasing and managing the facility’s equipment, and giving $20M to construction costs. Currently, LN would be required to host 25 shows a year, but no specifics on how big those shows would be or if there would be a cap on the number of events held annually.
The project’s budget cap is currently set at $130M, but it’s unclear how close the stadium’s construction will come to that cap. The facility will be designed by Live Nation with input from the city.
Other residents and theater unions turned out to support the new amphitheater.
“We’re at an exciting moment today,” said Bret Gallagher, president of Live Nation Southern California. “I’ve seen a lot of venues – this one is special.”