If they build it, people will come — but how many?
That is the question the Irvine City Council hopes to answer at a special meeting on Tuesday (February 21st), as they discuss — and perhaps decide — whether to continue negotiations for a massive 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater in the Great Park, or pursue a smaller, more manageable venue of 6,000-8,000 seats.
The issue pits Live Nation Entertainment — the multi-billion-dollar corporation lined up to be the operator of a 14,000-seat venue about the size of the Hollywood Bowl — against Irvine residents and Councilmember Larry Agran who have stated their preference for a smaller venue about the size of Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre.
Public comments during last week’s regular City Council meeting turned into a marathon public hearing on the amphitheater plans. During the February 14th Council meeting, Councilmember Mike Carroll asked his Council colleagues to postpone the vote.
During last week’s Council meeting, a large contingent of Live Nation management and employees, construction union officials, music industry workers, and out-of-town music fans turned out to support the 14,000-seat outdoor venue, while a bevy of Irvine residents spoke in favor of the smaller alternative. The residents cited noise and traffic concerns, with those from many areas of the City saying they are disturbed by concerts at the current temporary amphitheater operated by Live Nation.
City staff has also raised concerns after Live Nation proposed numerous changes to their original agreement with the City that would shift tens of millions of dollars in costs to Irvine taxpayers; eliminate the City’s ability to regulate sound and noise emanating from the amphitheater; and create new income streams for Live Nation — including the ability to sell naming rights to the venue.
When asked for comment, Councilmember Agran stated: “We all love live music and want it in the Great Park. In fact, the original Great Park Plan designed by Ken Smith included a beautiful amphitheater, but smaller in size and located in a more appropriate area of the park, away from homes.”
Agran added: “This project — costing more than $130 million — would be the largest capital expenditure in our City’s history, funded primarily by Irvine taxpayers. I think it’s important that the Council exercises due diligence to ensure that we pursue the kind of thoughtful planning process that has served Irvine residen’s so well over the years.”
On Tuesday, Councilmembers will hear a staff report on the status of the large amphitheater plan and an analysis of the smaller alternative, followed by a discussion of the Council’s options and potentially a deciding vote.
The meeting will begin Tuesday evening at 6:30pm at Irvine City Hall (1 Civic Center Plaza).
Also on the agenda for Tuesday night’s special meeting will be a discussion and possible vote on the process for transitioning to district elections for the City Council in 2024.
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