Irvine’s partnership with Live Nation for Great Park concert venue may be at risk – Orange County Register

Live Nation could pull out of an agreement with Irvine for a 14,000-seat amphitheater in Great Park if the city goes ahead with a proposed downsized venue.

And Great Park residents are divided on how big the concert hall should be.

In September, the Irvine Council approved an agreement with concert promoter Live Nation to design, build and operate a permanent 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater in Great Park, replacing the temporary FivePoint Amphitheater.

The total cost of the project was estimated at $130 million, with the city contributing $110 million and Live Nation contributing $20 million. Live Nation would also pay property tax: a property tax that private companies pay for leasing, renting, or using public land.

However, city manager Oliver Chi said Live Nation’s subsequent counter-proposal was a “major reconfiguration of the deal.”

His counter-proposal increased the total cost of the project by $20 million, with Irvine on the hook for the additional costs plus the property interest tax, city documents show.

Given the extensive changes to the council-approved agreement, Chi said city officials cannot approve the counter-agreement, and they require council approval.

City officials have offered council members an alternative option: A smaller amphitheater with a capacity of up to 8,000 and estimated at $80 million to $90 million, according to city documents.

However, the reduced size may not get the green light from Live Nation.

“They have no interest in running anything less,” Chi said.

Christina Karas, a Live Nation representative, declined to comment on the story before the council meeting.

The community gets involved

Great Park residents are divided on plans for the amphitheater.

Parrisa Yazdani, who is a member of the city-appointed Great Park Task Force, said she supports the larger amphitheater. It would be “premature to end the negotiations,” she said.

“It’s all or nothing for me,” said Yazdani.

In the case of a smaller amphitheater, she is “concerned about the feasibility of the upcoming acts”.

City officials have compared the proposed smaller amphitheater to Los Angeles’ Greek Theater, located in Griffith Park. Yazdani said the artists hosted there did not pique her interest.

While the smaller amphitheater “sounded intriguing because it would cost less, there would be less traffic, and we would have more control over the noise,” David Lingerfelt, another task force member, still supports the larger venue.

“What really drew me to a bigger amphitheater is the acts and performances it could attract,” Lingerfelt said.

But Mark Deppe isn’t concerned about the noise or traffic a larger venue might attract. Instead, the “rewrite of the contract is (felt) like a deal breaker,” said Deppe, who supports a smaller venue.

“I’m really nervous about an agreement with Live Nation,” said Deppe, who runs UC Irvine’s esports program. “I feel like the benefit of a larger venue comes with only a marginal increase in the level of the performers.”

A smaller venue, Cadence Park’s Camiar Ohadi said, could be a “community-centric place where the diverse city of Irvine can showcase its diversity with diverse musical performances, diverse theatrical performances, and diverse dance performances.”

While residents remain divided, members of the music community are largely supportive of Great Park’s 14,000-seat amphitheater.

When Raquel Figlo was 12 years old, her mother took her to her first concert. They watched Def Leppard and Ugly Kid Joe perform at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. As a young adult, she went dancing with friends at Irvine Meadows on Halloween night and watched performances by the heavy metal band Danzig. Now she is a music publicist.

The 14,000-seat amphitheater, Figlo said, would be a replacement for Irvine Meadows, an Orange County music destination for all ages.

“Not having these (big name) bands coming through Orange County impacts my business,” Figlo said. “It’s not going to give me a chance to go and not just meet the bands (but) meet the industry people, meet the security people.”

Andy Kinnon is stage manager and crew chief for FivePoint Amphitheater, the same position he held at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater for 36 years. He supports Irvine’s 14,000-seat amphitheater as an opportunity for the city to “fill the space for headliners that Irvine, California has become so famous for.”

Fans, he said, don’t have to go to Los Angeles or San Diego to find “a larger-capacity venue for the headliners.”

OC Supervisor Don Wagner, a former mayor of Irvine, said the 14,000-seat amphitheater “fits very well with the larger vision of Irvine and all of Orange County” to become an “arts hub.”

“A community without a vibrant arts component is one that’s stagnant,” Wagner said.

But Aarti Chopra, a longtime Irvine resident who lives about six miles north of Great Park, worries the city could become a “huge concert hub.”

The “greed of the city council” and “the money that’s pouring into Irvine has really spoiled the sense of community in Irvine,” Chopra said.

Council members will consider the revised agreement with Live Nation and the second option of a downsized amphitheater at a council meeting Tuesday, February 14 at 2 p.m. at 1 Civic Center Plaza. Irvine’s partnership with Live Nation for Great Park concert venue may be at risk – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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