FIVEPOINT'S COMMITMENT TO
“Music plays a major role in building community. It brings people together and breaks down barriers. Live outdoor music is part of Orange County’s heritage and it is essential to its future.”
Live music's next act in Irvine?
A proposed interim amphitheater may be the next step toward a permanent home for a major outdoor entertainment venue in Irvine
By Kedric Francis | October 23, 2016
On Oct. 30, OC’s own Gwen Stefani will offer one last encore at iconic Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. As the last note fades from her concert and fans take a final long walk back to the parking lot, the curtain will come down on 35 years of live music that drew an estimated 22 million visitors to one of Southern California’s favorite outdoor venues.
After a long and successful run that began in 1981, Irvine Meadows will close permanently to be replaced by much-needed housing for a growing city and county.
But major outdoor concerts may not be over for Irvine. FivePoint and Live Nation have partnered to build a proposed 12,000-seat outdoor amphitheater adjacent to the Orange County Great Park in time for the 2017 summer music season. The venue, which would be located less than two miles from Irvine Meadows, is intended as an interim solution to keep the music playing while plans are completed to build a permanent amphitheater that’s long been part of the master plan for the Great Park’s cultural terrace area.
A press conference to announce the interim amphitheater plan in Irvine drew media, city and county officials, and music fans to what was once a runway at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. Among those attending were 68th District Assemblyman Don Wagner, Irvine City Councilmember Christina Shea, and Anthony Kuo, chairman of the Irvine Planning Commission.
Guests accessed the event via a red carpet, flanked on either side by walls filled with thousands of memories and messages from music fans who attended Irvine Meadows during its final season, some 30,000 of whom signed petitions and offered their emails in the effort to continue live music in the city. This effort continues online (savelivemusicirvine.com).
“Since the early 1980s, music lovers in Orange County and beyond have made Irvine their choice for summer concerts, coming to see some of the greatest musical talents of all time,” says Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO, FivePoint. “We’re determined to keep this tradition alive by working with Live Nation to develop the next-generation, outdoor music venue in Irvine,” he says. “Music plays a major role in building community. It brings people together and breaks down barriers. Live outdoor music is part of Orange County’s heritage and it is essential to its future.”
The proposed interim amphitheater is subject to approval by the city of Irvine. In the application for permits, FivePoint offered to make private property owned by Heritage Fields available for the construction and operation of an interim venue for up to three years.
Preliminary plans for the Irvine venue show it to be within walking distance of the Irvine Transportation Center, a major mass transit hub for Metrolink and Amtrak passengers.
If the proposal is accepted by the city, Live Nation will design, construct and operate the outdoor facility and adjacent parking for fans, as well as concession and hospitality offerings.
“Orange County has become a major concert stop for touring musical acts and Live Nation is committed to keeping the long tradition of live summer concerts alive and growing in this region,” says Bret Gallagher, president of Southern California Live Nation. “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with FivePoint and build a high quality interim amphitheater venue,” Gallagher says.
Supporters for the proposed amphitheater include Assemblyman Wagner: “Irvine Meadows has been a great economic engine for Irvine and all of central Orange County,” he says. “To lose the value it brings to our community would be an economic disaster, and would leave the arts in Orange County greatly diminished. But FivePoint and LiveNation have stepped up with a visionary plan that deserves the public’s support.”
Live Nation built and operated a similar amphitheater on the waterfront in San Francisco in 2013. The America’s Cup Pavilion hosted concerts, family shows, community events, comedy, as well as the opening ceremony for the America’s Cup sailing competition.
“I’m so pleased to say I’m 100 percent behind this project,” says Christina Shea, an Irvine city council member. “This is just the beginning of a long future of success in the city of Irvine.”
Interim amphitheater expected to be ready by summer 2017
The proposed new interim amphitheater will seat 12,000 music fans and be located less than two miles from the soon-to-be-closed Irvine Meadows. When seated, fans will have a view of the Saddleback mountains.
The new venue will keep live music "alive" in Irvine until a permanent amphitheater, a component of Irvine's master plan for the Great Park's Cultural Terrace, is completed.