Negotiations continue over 14,000-seat Irvine amphitheater


photo provided by Kriti Jain

MR. WORLDWIDE: Pitbull takes the stage at the temporary Fivepoint Amphitheatre, which Live Nation hopes to replace with a permanent one.

Anna Cho, News Editor

The Irvine City Council voted 3-2 on Feb. 21 to continue negotiating its partnership with Live Nation in building a permanent 14,000-seat Great Park amphitheater. Construction plans for the outdoor amphitheater had previously been delayed as Live Nation had proposed new demands which posed a significant increase in operating costs for the city.

Irvine is set to invest around $114 million for the construction of the facility, with Live Nation contributing $20 million for an estimated operating cost of $130 million. Concerns arose in the community after Live Nation rejected city staff reports following the approval of the amphitheater in September, carrying new expectations for the city to pay an additional $20 million along with voiding any proposed noise restrictions. Live Nation ultimately denied “deviating from our original agreement” in a February press release.

Despite the approval to continue negotiations, most of the city council disapproved of Live Nation’s new terms, with Councilwoman Kathleen Treseder calling the deal “blatantly lopsided.”

“Live Nation’s proposals are almost insulting that they would ask us to do this,” Treseder said. “It is absurd that they are suddenly calling for higher funds because they expect the project to be more expensive than what it was initially.”

In exchange for running the amphitheater, Live Nation is set to pay the city $3.5 million annually in operating revenue, a cost that will increase by 3% annually. However, Live Nation’s potential profits through the amphitheater currently stand unlimited, according to the Irvine Watchdog.

Live Nation previously worked with the City of Irvine for the Five-Point Amphitheatre, which is currently Irvine’s only outdoor concert venue. With 134 noise complaints towards the amphitheater from May to September of last year, noise disturbances were one of the main concerns raised by Great Park residents. This was already down 83% from the previous year after Live Nation installed sound curtains, according to Voice of OC.

Councilwoman Tammy Kim proposed the building of a smaller, 8,000-seat amphitheater in regards to concerns of noise impact in the community, but her motion was shot down. Kim ultimately voted with the majority to continue negotiations for the larger proposal with Live Nation.

“Reducing the size of the amphitheater will not reduce noise impact in the community and may increase noise impact,” FivePoint Amphitheatre general manager Tiffany Silman said in an official statement. “For more than four decades we have worked in good faith with the City on sound restrictions and mitigation measures to ensure the sound remains at the agreed upon decibel levels.”

No confirmation about the continuation of this proposal has been made as of now, and the City Council is working on a new proposal with Live Nation representatives.

“We will continue to negotiate with Live Nation on this issue,” Treseder said. “I hope that they got the message from the Council that these over-the-top asks will not be tolerated and that more negotiation is needed.”