Can’t Stop The Music: Irvine To Provide A Temporary and Permanent Music Venue at Great Park

Irvine saves live music. Or at the very least, intends to at their next Great Park Board meeting on November 28, 2023 at 2:00PM. The City agenized plans for a temporary music venue at the Great Park and an update on existing plans for a permanent 8,000-10,000 seat amphitheater in the heart of the Park. Recommended actions include the following:

  • Receive an update on the progress of the planning for a permanent 8,000 – 10,000-seat amphitheater at the Great Park.
  • Direct staff to proceed with advancing concepts for a temporary live music venue at the Great Park Sports Complex with a capacity of 6,000 – 8,000 seats for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 summer concert seasons.
  • Accept a sponsorship from Five Point Communities in the amount of $600,000 to assist with the establishment of a temporary live music venue at the Great Park.
  • Authorize staff to secure equipment for the temporary amphitheater, including the stage and the bleachers, in an amount not to exceed $600,000.

It has been a long and bumpy road for Irvine to reach this point in their plans for a large live music venue. Irvine’s years-long contentious negotiations with embattled Live Nation culminated in the dismantling of the updated contract proposal and discrediting of Patrick Strader, Live Nation lobbyist, by Councilmember Kathleen Treseder. Strader, known for his outsized influence on Irvine elected officials and special interest projects, pushed for what many believe to be a one-sided deal involving exclusive rights to a larger amphitheater at Great Park.

On Tuesday, November 28, Irvine City Council may turn the page on the Live Nation saga and develop short-term and long-term plans for bringing live music back to Irvine under City control.

Temporary Concert Venue For the 2024-2026 Seasons

The Five Point Amphitheater recently closed to make way for Great Park residential construction activities. To avoid a gap in the delivery of live music in Irvine, staff is proposing a temporary live music facility that could seat 6,000 – 8,000 at the Great Park Sports Complex for the summer concert seasons in 2024, 2025, and 2026. The City projects costs will break even by 2026. The location of the new temporary concert venue will displace some grass soccer fields and may alter some event locations at Great Park. To mitigate noise, the temporary amphitheater will use house speakers, orient the stage facing East and pointing away from the nearest residences, install sound shielding materials, and mandate a hard cap noise shut-off at 10:00 p.m. Lastly, Five Point agreed to direct a $600,000 sponsorship toward establishing the new temporary venue and to mitigate costs to the City.

 

Above: Two maps showcasing the location of the proposed temporary concert venue. This location will not be used for the permanent amphitheater which will be built further Southeast, near Wild Rivers.

Permanent Amphitheater Plans For 2027

On July 25, the City Council directed staff to develop a process and timeline for the development of a new permanent amphitheater located in the heart of the Great Park with the following specifications:

  • 8,000 to 10,000 seats
  • Open venue operations, ie all promoters would have the same opportunity to book shows, without any single promoter having preference or priority
  • Mandatory use of a house speaker system to mitigate neighborhood noise impacts
  • Greater integration of the facility into the overall Great Park design
  • Pacific Symphony to engage in a “resident orchestra” partnership with the City at the planned venue and to anchor the venue’s cultural programming efforts

Staff has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a professional architectural firm to lead the amphitheater design efforts. Also, a Request for Quote (RFQ) has been developed to select an operator for the new venue. The City mandates that the operator cannot be a promoter (or be affiliated with any promoter). Responses to both the architect and operator solicitations will be due by the end of December.

Permanent Amphitheater Timeline

In early 2024, City staff will recommend an operator for a Council vote and have a final design ready for review in early 2025. Construction is projected to begin in 2026, with the facility set to open in time for the 2027 summer concert season, barring delays.

Above: Art renderings from staff report (subject to changes) depicting the permanent amphitheater to open in 2027.

How to Participate

Irvine residents may provide public comments at City Council and Great Park Board meetings by attending in person at City Hall or via Zoom. Residents may also submit e-comments. Instructions are here. You may also watch Council meetings live on YouTube here. More information on how to participate in this Great Park Board meeting can be found here.