Great Park Sports Park
SPORTS PARK OPEN HOUSE
Tennis courts and soccer fields are part of the first phase of the Sports Park.
“We made a commitment to the city of Irvine to enhance the lives of residents by building world-class amenities, including sports facilities. I am proud that we have not only delivered, but exceeded that promise.”
Elements of the one-acre playground at the Sports Park
Sports Park Promises kept
The first phase of a new world-class youth sports destination debuts August 5 at the Orange County Great Park
Kedric Francis | August 3, 2017
Let the games begin!
On Aug. 5, the much anticipated Orange County Great Park Sports Park will become a reality when the public address announcer in the championship soccer stadium press box belts out, “Play ball.” At that moment the first sports activities at four of the new venues in the Sports Park will begin signaling the start of a new era for the city of Irvine and greater Orange County.
Long known for its stellar schools, vibrant economy and master-planned communities, this city of 275,000 residents will add "international youth sports destination" to its list of superlatives. Residents and visitors from near and far are being invited to a free “community open house” to see first-hand the 53-acre first phase of the Sports Park. Beginning at 2 p.m., the day-long event will feature games, demonstrations and sports clinics with well-known athletes, drop-in activities, a Blues Brothers concert featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, food trucks and fun.
The centerpiece of the first phase is the championship soccer stadium, a state-of-the-art facility with capacity for 2,500 fans in the stadium’s permanent seats and 2,500 more on the grass berms. The stadium will be a prominent sports venue for the region, and is expected to host graduations, events and other gatherings in the community.
The first phase will also feature 25 hard-surface tennis courts, six natural-turf soccer fields and five sand volleyball courts. Both the tennis and volleyball centers include championship courts with fixed seating for more than 100 spectators each. There will also be a 1-acre playground with activities for children.
Guy Lemmon, a 40-year Irvine resident and youth sports advocate, says that while the soccer stadium is “the crown jewel of the Sports Park, it’s the scale of the sports activities that will be ongoing at one location that makes the Sports Park unique. Imagine ten sports competitions going on simultaneously all across the Sports Park, drawing hundreds of teams of 8-, 12- and 15-year olds from near and far,” Lemmon says. “This park is for the public at large. This is about Irvine, OC, and Southern California.”
With 194 acres, the Great Park Sports Park is planned to be nearly 2 times the size of Disneyland and will include a dedicated softball complex with five fields, a championship stadium and four batting cages; a baseball complex with seven baseball fields, also with a championship stadium and four batting cages; plus four basketball courts, six more soccer fields and “flex fields” that can be used for rugby, cricket and lacrosse.
The Sports Park is planned to be the largest public multi-sports facility in California and one of the largest in the United States, according to Ed Crofts, community services manager for the city of Irvine. “A large public-private sports complex of this scope and size is unprecedented in the area,” Crofts says. “With the stadiums, finishes and support facilities, this sports complex is truly one of a kind.”
From the first phase forward, the Sports Park is expected to be an important venue for national and international youth sports, drawing top amateur athletes from around the world for championship competitions. The Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce has added staff to market the city as a destination for major youth sports competitions, and Crofts says city staff are already working on ”national championship level tournaments and events that will experience international play in year one. These events, combined with daily play for youth and adult teams and drop-in activities for guests from Irvine and throughout Orange County, will provide an incredible asset to the community.”
The Sports Park has been planned in conjunction with the city of Irvine and paid for and built by FivePoint’s partnership (Heritage Fields, LLC) for the city of Irvine as part of the company’s commitment to develop 688 acres of the Great Park, of which 194 acres is the Sports Park. The FivePoint partnership is spending approximately $250 million to create its portion of the Great Park, an estimated $75 million more than required by agreements with the city of Irvine. A significant part of that construction cost—approximately $30 million—was spent to remove runways, hangars and other structures from the closed MCAS El Toro and to complete infrastructure in the park, including roads, water, electrical and other necessary improvements.
“We made a commitment to the city of Irvine to enhance the lives of residents by building world-class amenities, including sports facilities. I am proud that we have not only delivered, but exceeded that promise,” said Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint. “By this time next year, the whole Sports Park will be done. It will be one of the largest sports venues in the country. I believe it is clear that we are building a series of venues that will enrich this community and deliver benefits for generations to come.”
Guy Lemmon, who was instrumental in the “Build the Great Park Now” campaign that helped jumpstart progress at the Great Park, says that the result of the public-private partnership between the city of Irvine and FivePoint is “a world class facility designed to the sensibility of the 21st century. Youth are more involved in athletics than ever before, and there’s been a fundamental change in people’s dedication to being active and healthy,” he says. “The name of the game is to get activity going on, and the Great Park speaks to that. For years to come, kids will measure their sports and fitness accomplishments by saying with pride: ‘I’m playing at the Great Park.’”