The Irvine City Council has unanimously voted to build a temporary amphitheater adjacent to the Orange County Great Park. The new venue will replace the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater that shut down late last year to make way for apartment complexes in the Southern California community. In front of a packed house of live music enthusiasts, the city council voted 5-0 to pass a proposal that would see FivePoint Communities Management, Inc. and Live Nation build an interim 12,000-seat amphitheater.
“We’re excited for the city of Irvine and its residents,” FivePoint’s Chief Communications Officer Steve Churm told Amplify. “We’re excited for the County of Orange and frankly we’re excited for those that love culture, love art, and particularly those that love performing arts.”
Churm explained that FivePoint felt it was their obligation as part of the Orange County community to bring people through developments and reached out to Live Nation (which previously operated the Meadows) to “make sure that the tradition of a live outdoor venue of scale and size continued in Irvine.
“The Irvine City Council is continuing a tradition that has brought hundreds of thousands of people together for more than three decades in our city,” said Mayor Donald P. Wagner in a statement. “In doing so, we recognize the enormous economic engine that live music fuels in Irvine and beyond, and the cultural importance of live music as part of Orange County’s identity. FivePoint and Live Nation’s proposal enables us to collectively develop recreational, cultural and educational opportunities for the enjoyment of Orange County residents and visitors.”
The Irvine Meadows Amphitheater served the Orange County area for 35 years before it closed at the end of October last year to make way for the Irvine Company’s Los Olivos apartment community. For its last few performances, the Meadows saw many big names including Dave Matthews Band, Jimmy Buffet, and Orange County native Gwen Stefani who shut down the amphitheater with two final shows.
Two months prior to its closing, Meadows’ fans created the Save Live Music Irvine campaign to keep live music in the area. During Miranda Lambert’s Aug. 5 performance at the amphitheater, the campaign began collecting signatures to encourage the city council to hear plans for a new venue. Live Nation and FivePoint, a developer for the residential areas surrounding Great Park, joined forces with the campaign and placed a graffiti wall at the Meadows to collect stories from fans who had attended the amphitheater over the years. With over 30,000 fans signed up on the Save Live Music Irvine site, the two companies proposed a plan for an interim venue.
“We felt it was very important that the tradition that is now almost 36-years-old at Irvine Meadows continue uninterrupted. If it was paused for a couple of years, it would be hard to re-spark that again,” said Churm.
The plan that passed the city council will have FivePoint providing land for three years for Live Nation who will design, build, and operate the amphitheater, parking, and concessions. The proposed amphitheater will have 12,000 seats and provide a 4,000-space parking lot less than two miles from the site of the now-removed Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. In addition to rock and country music, the interim amphitheater will also host the Orange County Pacific Symphony for its summer concert series.
“By continuing to have major summer concerts, it is going to make it easier to transition to a permanent venue which we all hope will be built on city-owned land at the Orange County Great Park,” Churm said. “We felt that any interruption to the tradition and we would start to lose fans and it would become less relevant.”
A permanent music venue is expected on the city-owned property of Orange Country Great Park in the coming years.
“The next steps are to work with city staff to get final approvals needed in terms of roads completed and all the plans,” Churm said. “If everything checks out and everything is approved, construction will begin sometime later this spring, in May, with an eye to open the amphitheater in early August.”
This year’s expected season will run from August to October, making it roughly half the schedule of the Meadows’ that ran from April to October. Churm said the following years are expected to be full seasons.