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BREAKING: Irvine approves temporary amphitheater near Great Park

By Tomoya Shimura

IRVINE – Orange County music fans will get to continue enjoying their local summer outdoor concert tradition in their own backyard at least for the next three years.

In an effort to replace the now-closed Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, the Irvine City Council on Tuesday, March 14, unanimously approved the building of a temporary 12,000-seat amphitheater adjacent the Orange County Great Park.

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“An amphitheater has been a part of this family fabric for years and years so it was a heartbreak when (Irvine Meadows) amphitheater was torn down for all those apartments,” Councilwoman Christina Shea said. “I drive by there and I see that devastation and it just breaks your heart. This is just so nice to see we’re resurrecting the amphitheater and we can bring all of Orange County to Irvine to celebrate live music and just become a family again.”

The temporary amphitheater could open in late summer, in time for the latter half of the concert season, said Steve Churm, spokesman for developer FivePoint, which proposed the project and is overseeing the development of thousands of homes around the Great Park.

“We’re going to have a couple surprises towards the end of the summer,” said Bret Gallagher, president of concert promoter Live Nation Southern California.

Supporters of the project, donning red “#SaveLiveMusicIrvine” T-shirts, packed the council chamber and the City Hall lobby. They included music fans, concert venue workers and local business and political leaders.

All 21 people who addressed the council spoke in favor of the project. They said the new amphitheater will fill the cultural gap left by the Irvine Meadows closure, create jobs in the area and help put Irvine on the map.

“We are excited for Irvine and Orange County that we will continue to see live music,” Churm said after the public hearing. “I think Irvine Meadows has been a destination for musicians for bands for fans. This will continue it. … (In Orange County) we’ll become a major destination for artists, both starting and very established artists. It’s exciting.”

Continue reading the Orange County Register…

Gwen Stefani Closes Irvine Meadows

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.

Continue reading at he Orange County Register…

Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Registe/SCNG

DAILY PILOT: New venue will keep the concert culture alive in Irvine

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.

Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times…