This brief video of the press event at the Great Park that featured FivePoint and LiveNation is worth two minutes of your time. Take a look.
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
IRVINE – Gwen Stefani took the Irvine Meadows stage Sunday night as the concert venue’s final performer, 26 years after her band, No Doubt, first played there as an opening act for reggae artist Ziggy Marley.
“Can you imagine? Tonight is one of the most special nights for all of us,” she said. “We, together, will be closing down Irvine Meadows. This is it, right here … I’m so honored to be from Orange County, and I’m so honored to be with you here tonight to celebrate music. Let’s have some fun tonight. Do you want to?”
And with that, Orange County’s first large-scale concert venue began its swan song. The 16,000-capacity amphitheater, which opened in 1981, will be razed soon to make way for the second phase of the Irvine Co.’s Los Olivos apartment community. The amphitheater, which opened in 1981, sits on land leased by the Irvine Co., with the last of those leases expiring this year.
Annette Galindo of Huntington Beach has worked at Irvine Meadows for eight years, first at the front podium and then at the backstage entrance. She has spent those years saying “hello” and “goodbye” to a slew of artists, employees and stagehands. Sunday night she said goodbye for a final time as the venue hosted its last concert.
“It’s heartbreaking that we’re closing,” she said. “I’ve been saying goodbye all year and realizing that it is literally goodbye. I’m looking at the trees and looking around here and knowing it’s going to be torn down. When I worked out front, I watched Wild Rivers go down, so I know the reality of what’s going to happen here, and it’s breaking my heart.”
Fans turned out early Sunday for the final show.
“We just happened to stumble upon tickets to the last show at Irvine Meadows,” Marty Reichman of Fullerton said.
He was tailgating out in the bed of his truck in the parking lot with his wife, Keely. Reichman added that he usually attended multiple shows each season and that his first show at the venue was Rush in 1982.
“It’s quite the dichotomy between Rush and Gwen, but we’re also just happy to be at the last show.”
Others in attendance Sunday also said that being part of the final show was the big draw.
“We’re here because this is history,” Erin Koury of Dove Canyon said. She showed up with a handful of girlfriends who agreed they would have come to the venue to support keeping live music in Irvine, no matter who was performing.
Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Registe/SCNG
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
Long before the fans enter through the gates, buy their first cold beer or cocktail and head to their seats to enjoy an evening of live music at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, dozens of men and women have already been hard at work behind the scenes to ensure that every last detail is perfectly in place before the first note is played up on the stage.
After 36 years, the venue will be torn down this year to make way for the expanding Los Olivos apartment community, but not before a pair of shows headlined by Orange County’s own Gwen Stefani on Saturday and Sunday. Putting together these last few gigs, including Go Country 105 FM’s final Go Fest with Florida Georgia Line, the hip-hop festival How the West Was Won featuring Ice Cube, and longtime venue favorite Jimmy Buffett, has been an emotional experience for the amphitheater’s crew, which has become like family over the past three decades.
Several members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 504 have worked at the 16,000-capacity amphitheater since it opened with the Charlie Daniels Band on Aug. 21, 1981.
“He had brown hair back then, like I did,” head carpenter James “Buck” Buckholz said of Daniels with a laugh, pointing down at one of his work ID badges bearing a photo that’s a few decades old. He’s also head of payroll, and as the team shows up to his office, nestled just off stage right, he checks off their names as they clock in before 10 a.m. to set up pop-punk band Blink-182’s show later that evening.
Over the years, Buckholz and his team have witnessed some once-in-a-lifetime moments, from sharing ribs with Hall of Fame blues guitarist Bo Diddley in 1985 to hanging out with members of the English metal band Iron Maiden as they cooled off at the then-adjacent Wild Rivers water park after a sound check during one of their numerous summer visits.
By Matt Morrison
Concertgoers in Orange County saddened with the closing of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre this month can look forward to a new venue less than two miles away without missing a beat.
Land developer FivePoint Communities in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment unveiled a joint plan to construct a temporary 12,000-seat facility on the southwest perimeter of the Orange County Great Park with expectations of opening in time for next year’s summer concert series.
Pending permit approvals from the City of Irvine, the venue will be licensed for up to three years as plans for a permanent amphitheater within the cultural terrace of the Great Park are developed.
“I want to see it completed and finished hopefully by spring so we can get the concerts moving and there won’t be any downtime with the close (of Irvine Meadows),” said Irvine city councilwoman Christina Shea, one of several guest speakers at the announcement Tuesday.
“The city just has to approve the noise continuation and what that’s going to look like. Also, the parking permits and how the flow of traffic is going to work,” Shea added.
Live Nation Southern California President Bret Gallagher praised FivePoint for partnering in a solution that extends a 35-year tradition of first-class live entertainment in Irvine.
“When our lease was ending, they stepped up, found this piece of property for us and have been a great building partner with us since day one,” Gallagher said.
Opened in 1981, Irvine Meadows has annually staged the most popular acts in all genres of music including Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Oingo Boingo, Billy Joel, and Garth Brooks. The curtain closes this month with final performances by Jimmy Buffet and Orange County native Gwen Stefani.
By Editorial Board
Irvine is one of the finest places to live in the world. It’s safe; it has tremendous schools; it has picturesque greenery and park space; and a vibrant business community that in many ways is the epicenter of economic activity in Orange County. As such, the council needs strong leaders that understand both what makes the city so special and what it needs to get even better.
When looking at the type of leadership necessary for the city, there is no candidate more deserving of an endorsement than Councilwoman Christina Shea.
Shea understands the residents and the community and she has been a consistent, prudent voice on a council often times divided by unnecessary politics. In fact, Councilwoman Shea has demonstrated her unquestionable leadership as an advocate for the city and its residents.
On some of the most sensitive issues the city faced over the last several years Shea has been a deciding factor in successes for the city — most notably holding the city accountable and keeping its promise to ensure the Great Park would begin to be built, and built well. Not only that, she has been a strong advocate for driving economic activity for the city.
There are two open seats on the Irvine council this year as longtime Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom is retiring from the council. To fill the second seat on the Irvine City Council we recommend Planning Commissioner Anthony Kuo. There are numerous smart and vibrant candidates running this year, but Kuo embodies many of the admirable characteristics of Councilwoman Shea. And it says a lot about him that Shea is supporting his candidacy.
Having served on the Irvine Planning Commission, Kuo also keenly understands the issues of growth and community development, and how to responsibly manage those while at the same time steward the city’s resources.
Irvine deserves thoughtful leaders who understand the community. Vote for Christina Shea and Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council.
Read more at the Orange County Register…
By Daniel Kohn
For 35 years, sweltering, bumper-to-bumper traffic off the 405 exit for Irvine Center Drive come sunset has been as beloved an OC summer ritual as hitting the beach or bitching about another lost Angels season. And it was no different this past July, as police waved hoards holding beer cans and sporting tie-dyed T-shirts across Bake Parkway. Dead and Company was in town, the last gasp of the Grateful Dead, and the parking lot of Irvine Meadows bustled with Deadheads. True to tradition, wherever they go, they create a makeshift vendor area crammed with campers and tents dubbed Shakedown Street, after the famous Dead song and album.
Fans started filing into the sold-out venue as the sun dropped over Irvine Meadows’ picturesque hillside setting, creating another majestic view on this clear summer night. Before Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, the Dead made Irvine Meadows a regular stop, playing there 15 times, most famously in 1989 in what police labeled as a “near riot” when approximately 500 fans without tickets reportedly threw rocks and bottles at authorities and lit bonfires when they couldn’t enter the venue. Though the mood was much calmer 27 years later, excitement still surged through the crowd full of aging hippies in cargo shorts.
On the arduous walk from the gate to the amphitheater, fans whispered about John Mayer’s inclusion in the group and whether the group is still credible without Phil Lesh. But the biggest topic was whether this was the final time they’d ever catch a show at Irvine Meadows.
“I can’t believe it’s actually closing,” one middle-aged attendee said to another as he lit up a joint.
“Yeah, it’s been like this for a while,” his balding friend said. “Sad to see the place go.”
By Jeff Collins
Eight tennis courts are painted, fenced and lighted. Six rectangles of grass are evolving into soccer fields. And the steel-and-concrete stands for a 26,000-square-foot soccer stadium are rising from the ground.
Great Park developer FivePoint Communities gave the media a progress report Tuesday on the 175-acre sports park it’s building for the city of Irvine, saying tennis, soccer and beach volleyball facilities will be completed early next year.
Openly alluding to conflicts during a decade of delays, city and FivePoint officials said they now can point to “significant progress” in bringing the 14-year-old Great Park dream to reality.
“After years of little more than studies and marketing and lots of parties out here and little more being accomplished, we can finally see the scale and breadth of what is being delivered for the use and enjoyment of our residents,” Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea told a small gathering of reporters and dignitaries at the sports park site.
“This sports complex will be the anchor of what promises to be the heart of Orange County,” she said.
The Great Park and 9,500 new homes are taking shape on the former El Toro Marine base in south Orange County. Lennar Homes and its partners bought the 3,700-acre base in 2005, donated 1,347 acres to Irvine for the park and – through its spinoff, FivePoint – began building homes around the future parkland boundaries.
By Donald P. Wagner
The same County of Orange that tried to jam a 34 million annual passenger airport into Irvine is now trying to kill the Great Park with a development the size of Century City. The imminent release of an EIR on this massive development is a wake-up call for all of Irvine.
November 2003 was a watershed in Orange County with the annexation of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro to the city of Irvine. It was the culmination of 10 years of the battling over the future of the historic air base. The Board of Supervisors’ “vision” of an airport at El Toro would have destroyed South County with an airport the size of San Francisco International Airport. But overwhelming public sentiment in Irvine and the rest of South County prevailed.
But the county did not come away from the El Toro base empty handed. As part of a tax transfer agreement on March 4, 2003 the county received 231 acres of the former air base, and promised to use it to the advantage of Irvine. Specifically, then-county Supervisor Bill Campbell reported in his March 11, 2003 weekly newsletter that, “The property tax received by the county will be protected, and the passage of the agreement will be beneficial for all of Orange County’s taxpayers and residents of Irvine.”
The agreement did not say the county would try to cram onto 100 acres enough development to rival Century City’s density and traffic generation. Rather, the county made the case that they needed the land for institutional uses, similar to the OCTA bus barn on Marine Way. But now, the county does not want to honor former Supervisor Campbell’s words and the county’s promise. Instead, it has brazenly approved an EIR for a project of staggering proportions right in the heart of Irvine.
Imagine office space equivalent to the size of South Coast Plaza, 220,000 square feet of retail, a 242 room hotel, and 2,000 apartment units shoe-horned into 100 acres. This project flies in the face of the pre-annexation agreement. It also jeopardizes the Great Park’s success and the community amenities we have fought so hard to create. The county’s plan would consume 50 percent of the vehicle trips allowed for the entire 3,200 acre Great Park and Great Park Neighborhoods’ private development.
Admittedly, the prior City Council majority spent a decade squandering $250 million on useless plans and has given us precious little to show for the waste of tax money. But the new City Council majority has turned a corner with the development of Heritage Fields and the Great Park. Now is not the time to return to the days of fighting with the county. Nor is it time to blow up the Great Park with a large ill-considered and unwanted county project like the failed airport. Déjà vu all over again is not acceptable.
We have a talented developer that is making significant progress in delivering the Great Park. Leadership in Irvine must sit down with responsible county officials and have a reasonable discussion that protects the Great Park and satisfies the terms of the 2003 agreement.
In the next week I will launch a formal campaign to oppose the county’s 100 acre development. I urge you to join me and other residents in this effort. The county’s plan is wrong for Irvine and wrong for Orange County.
Donald P. Wagner is an assemblyman representing the 68th district and a candidate for mayor of Irvine.
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
After 36 years of hosting legendary tours, one-of-a-kind performances and numerous multi-stage and artist festivals, Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre will close for good following two evenings with Gwen Stefani on Oct. 29-30. The singer announced the shows this morning during an appearance on KIIS-FM.
The former Anaheim resident, No Doubt frontwoman and Grammy award-winning solo artist will be bringing the final dates of her This is What the Truth Feels Like Tour to her home county and Irvine’s own indie rock outfit Young the Giant will serve as support for one last hurrah at the iconic outdoor concert venue.
“I’m devastated,” Stefani said of the closing during an interview earlier this week. “I don’t remember my first time going there because I have a really bad memory, but I remember the first time playing there and it was opening for Ziggy Marley and I remember thinking ‘How on God’s great Earth are we playing here?’”
That show was back in 1990, five years before No Doubt would hit big with its third record, “Tragic Kingdom.” No Doubt performed at Irvine Meadows numerous times throughout the years including a main stage slot at KROQ’s annual Weenie Roast in 1996. It stopped by for one night during the Return of Saturn tour in 2000 and the band played four sold-out nights there in 2009. Stefani even brought her second solo tour, The Sweet Escape Tour, to the venue for two sold-out nights in 2007. She hadn’t talked to the other members of No Doubt about performing during these final shows, but said “You know what? You never say never. You never know what can happen.”