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Irvine Searches for New Amphitheater Operator

Following an aborted deal with Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the city of Irvine is now looking for a company to run what will replace the temporary FivePoint Amphitheater in the Great Park.

City council members Sept. 12 voted to commence a search for a third-party operator that will head events at the city’s planned amphitheater.

The city aims to deliver the venue in the summer of 2027, “on pace with the rest of the surrounding park development,” which is expected to see its first phase complete by 2032.
The amphitheater is expected to span 25 acres of the roughly 480-acre Great Park.

Terminated Deal

Live Nation (NYSE: LYV) currently leases the temporary amphitheater from an affiliate of Irvine-based Five Point Holdings LLC (NYSE: FPH).

Live Nation, under a prior rejected proposal, would have taken over the amphitheater by contributing $20 million to $30 million in construction for the estimated $130 million project and paying a $3.5 million rent fee that’d increased by 3% each year.

Other fees Live Nation would pay to Irvine include half of a $5 maintenance surcharge included in each ticket, which was estimated to generate up to $1 million for the city per season.

City residents, city staffers and council members expressed concerns that the Live Nation deal would give the company sole control over events at the venue, exclusion from noise ordinances and a lopsided revenue split.

Those concerns ultimately led Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim to cast the deciding vote that ended the city’s negotiations with Live Nation.

Downsizing

Irvine has downsized plans for the amphitheater from what was proposed with Live Nation. Designs for the venue are now expected to hold 8,000 to 10,000 seats, down from the original 14,000 seat proposal.

The park’s current amphitheater can seat around 12,000 spectators.

Plans for the new site also call for “opening lake views from the seats” and creating nearby gathering spaces “so that the venue feels like part of the park, rather than segregated from it,” city filings note.

The Great Park’s lake has yet to be built, though city officials anticipate it to be complete during phase one of the park’s retail overhaul.

Pacific Symphony

The latest plans for the amphitheater aim to address some concerns brought up by residents and city staff.

The venue will be built with a house speaker system that “ensures no residential neighborhood noise impacts,” city filings noted.

The Pacific Symphony may find summer home at the amphitheater, whose latest plans emphasize a diversity of programming with cultural and commercial music acts
Council members last week authorized discussions between the musical group and the city to make Pacific Symphony Irvine’s resident orchestra.

If the city and Pacific Symphony go through with a partnership, the orchestra will “anchor our cultural programming at the amphitheater with an annual summer symphonic series,” city filings said.

Great Park Overhaul

The amphitheater is one of the many facilities getting revamped at the Great Park.

San Juan Capistrano-based retail developer and operator Almquist has been tapped for a retail-focused overhaul of the Great Park and a portion of the adjacent Great Park Neighborhoods.

The city of Irvine last month began exclusive negotiations with Almquist for restaurants and dining concepts at the Great Park as part of Irvine’s $1 billion goal of expanding the park into the largest of its kind in the nation.

Almquist, which previously developed Stanton’s Rodeo 39 Public Market and is currently working on River Street Marketplace in San Juan Capistrano, has also been working with FivePoint on a grocery-anchored retail site at the master developer’s Great Park Neighborhoods.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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