On Tuesday (July 25th), the Irvine City Council decided that Live Nation will not be operating a 14,000-seat amphitheater in the Great Park.
On a 3-2 vote on a motion by Councilmember Larry Agran, the City Council declared the long-running and controversial negotiation with Live Nation terminated. Agran was joined by Councilmembers Kathleen Treseder and Tammy Kim in voting for the motion while Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Mike Carroll voted against it.
The successful motion directed City staff to return to the Council with a “process and timeline” for reviewing and approving an amphitheater of 8,000-10,000 seats, with a house sound system under City control. The facility is to be managed by a third-party operator that is not a promoter so that the new facility will be available to all promoters and presenters.
The vote came after dozens of public commenters weighed in for and against a draft agreement with Live Nation that was unveiled the previous Friday evening. It was the third draft agreement to be considered by the Council since September 2022.
The latest draft agreement included a $150 million construction cost to be borne by the City, with Live Nation controlling all bookings and ticketing. Live Nation would also keep all revenues from concessions, parking, naming rights and other ancillary sources. And, any future changes to the City’s noise ordinance that Live Nation found unacceptable would trigger an end to the agreement and payment of a substantial indemnity from the City to Live Nation. All of these provisions had drawn objections from the community and Councilmembers in past meetings.
“This does not look favorable to the City of Irvine, to say the least,” said Councilmember Treseder.
Councilmember Agran noted that the proposed contract was made public just four days before the meeting, saying: “This is a huge contract and it hasn’t even been thoroughly reviewed by the City Manager or the City Attorney. It would be gross malpractice by any public official to approve this.”
He also showed a map of estimated sound levels in Irvine during an amphitheater show and pointed out that hundreds of homes would experience 75 decibels, which “is like somebody using a leaf blower right outside your house.”
Treseder called the house sound system that Live Nation agreed to add into the agreement “an expensive dust collector” because bands would not be required to use it instead of their own sound systems.
Agran and Treseder have pushed for the smaller, open-access amphitheater idea in prior meetings and this time they were joined by Kim, who said she had spent “hundreds of hours” educating herself on the concert business.
Councilmember Kim — who just months ago referred to Live Nation as the “gold standard” — said she had come to the conclusion that the agreement’s structure was fundamentally flawed and not fixable.
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