New Irvine amphitheater seeks to rival Hollywood Bowl

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Heart of the Park: The pictured FivePoint Amphitheatre will be replaced with a permanent 14,000-seat venue by 2025.

Karen Wang, News Editor

The Irvine City Council voted 5-1 on Sept. 27 to move forward with the construction of a permanent 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater as a part of the city’s “Heart of the Park” Great Park Framework Plan.
The new amphitheater will serve as a permanent replacement for the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre that was demolished in 2016 after 35 years of operation, following a termination of Live Nation’s lease.

Great Park developer FivePoint and Live Nation, a Los Angeles based concert promoter, subsequently struck an agreement for the temporary Fivepoint Amphitheatre that opened its doors in the summer of 2018, quickly establishing itself as a staple in arts and entertainment among Irvine residents.

“I absolutely loved the Pitbull concert I attended at FivePoint recently because it felt so authentic and was just around the corner,” senior Kriti Jain said.

Despite FivePoint’s development, talks for a permanent amphitheater have been ongoing since 2016.

Having “Orange County’s equivalent to the Hollywood Bowl” could have significant benefits to the local economy, and could generate well over 400 jobs, according to City Manager Oliver Chi.

“We didn’t find any municipally operated facilities with a return rate as high as what we’re contemplating,” Chi said to the Voice of OC.

With a budget of approximately $130 million, the city would fund the amphitheater’s construction while Live Nation would be responsible for day-to-day operations such as purchasing concert equipment and would owe $4 million in rent annually.

Councilmember Larry Agran, the sole dissenting vote, felt that more due diligence was needed in approving the amphitheater.

“There should be major noise and traffic studies, along with environmental reviews, that need to be undertaken,” Agran said. “The public especially needs to participate in these proceedings. Those are important questions that should be answered before we say yes to moving forward, not after.”

Irvine residents have voiced great concern over potential noise and traffic impacts, along with an overall call for greater transparency among the city council. Homeowners in the Great Park pay a special property tax to aid its development, with tax districts ranging from $2,000 to upwards of $21,000 annually.

Though Chi has pledged that no resident property tax would be used in funding the amphitheater, many have voiced concern that recent Great Park developments fail to align with local interests as the development of the 2026 FIFA World Cup national training center and a new aquatic center for USA Water Polo’s national teams are also underway.

“The community needs to come first, and then we can give consideration to these corporations, which is the way we built the William Woollett Aquatic facility in Heritage Park,” Agran said. “To build the new facility first and foremost for elite water polo usage has our priorities upside down.”

The new amphitheater intends to open its doors for the 2025 concert season. While precise documents into the facility’s financing have yet to be released, city officials have pledged to release them, according to the Voice of OC.

Residents can directly address council members at upcoming City Council and Great Park Board meetings.

For more information, visit https://www.cityofirvine.org/city-council/city-council-meetings.