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The Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre? Irvine City Council to Discuss What Size Amphitheater to Build in the Great Park

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Think of the two most beloved amphitheaters in Los Angeles — the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre. Essentially, that’s the choice being put before the City Council on February 14th, as they once again consider what kind of music venue to create as a centerpiece of the Great Park.
 
In September 2022, the prior City Council — with Councilmember Larry Agran dissenting — approved an agreement with Live Nation Worldwide Inc. to jointly build a massive 14,000-seat amphitheater, which would be about the same size as the Hollywood Bowl. The agreement included having Live Nation operate the venue for 30 years with an additional 10-year option.
 
At the time, Councilmember Agran objected to the agreement, saying that the venue would be oversized for the location, creating noise and traffic problems for the Great Park Neighborhoods and beyond. Agran noted that his Council colleagues were giving the go-ahead to a multi-million-dollar agreement before the project had been fully studied to determine the impact to residents in the area.
 
Two months later, Live Nation rejected the Council-approved deal and proposed numerous changes that would shift tens of millions of dollars in costs to the City; 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.
 
Now, in response to a joint request last month from Agran and newly-elected Councilmember Kathleen Treseder, City staff has taken another look at the plans and concluded that the smaller venue of 6,000-8,000 seats (about the same size as the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park) is feasible.
 
City staff also took a closer look at the noise issue, in response to citizen complaints about the current temporary amphitheater in the Great Park operated by Live Nation. A consulting firm retained by the City reported there is no technology to bring sound levels in nearby residential neighborhoods down to the levels specified as maximums in the original agreement.
 
“I think the staff report makes it clear that the 14,000-seat plan is no longer tenable, if it ever was,” said Agran. “Look, we all love live music and want to see it in the Great Park, but we must have a venue that doesn’t burden our residents with noise and traffic problems. I believe that a smaller amphitheater could strike that balance.”
 
On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether it wants to continue with the 14,000-seat venue or switch to the smaller alternative. The issue could get heated, as form letters opposing any change to the size of the venue have already begun circulating on Facebook, urging people to send them to the Council and to attend the February 14th meeting.

Roger Bloom

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