Orange County-based developer FivePoint and Los Angeles-based live events producer Live Nation have made good on their promise to keep live music in Irvine as the new FivePoint Amphitheatre will officially open on Thursday, Oct. 5 with performances by Irvine’s own Young the Giant and Southern California natives, Cold War Kids.
Though certainly nothing can replace the legacy and memories locals have of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre – which was demolished after 36 years of performances immediately following two evenings with Gwen Stefani, Young the Giant and Save Ferris in October 2016 – FivePoint and Live Nation made it a priority to continue live music in Irvine and with the approval of the Irvine City Council constructed a 12,000-capacity venue which borders Irvine’s Great Park.
“We took the spirit, the vibe (of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre) and took it across the 5 freeway,” Bret Gallagher, president of Live Nation Southern California said during a tour of the still under construction FivePoint Amphitheatre on Tuesday afternoon.
As music fans walk into FivePoint Amphitheatre for the first time, they’ll pass under a familiar archway, one that Live Nation salvaged from Irvine Meadows, which will be cleaned and reskinned for the new venue, but will serve as the connection from the past to the future.
“Everyone worked together and we delivered on a promise to keep live music in Irvine,” Gallagher said. “It’s a combination of Live Nation, FivePoint and I have to give credit to the City Council members in Irvine who really got behind it. More importantly, the fans, they turned out. Their gem down the street, Irvine Meadows, was a great place and there were people that I spoke to who had experienced most of their live music entertainment at that venue and for it to go down and for us to bring this one to life, it’s a massive accomplishment and we couldn’t have done it without those fans.”
FivePoint Amphitheatre is the first brand new amphitheatre to be built in Orange County since Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa opened in 1983 and the first to be constructed in Southern California since Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, which opened in 1998.
Immediately upon entry to the venue, guests will be ushered into a wide, grassy concessions area which will feature an array of craft beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks as well as food from local eateries such as the seafood-centric Tackle Box, American fare from Cassell’s Hamburgers and contemporary Korean cuisine from Hanjip Korean BBQ. There will also be sponsor and merchandise tents located within the area as well as picnic tables and eventually cabanas on the grass for patrons to lounge and enjoy a meal or drink before a show.
“The idea is, we have these three shows this year and we can test drive it and really get an idea of what people like and what we can perfect as we move forward,” Gallagher added.
FivePoint Amphitheatre has three sets of bleachers with 6,500 individual fold-down seats, including the 280 seats located within the VIP box area that surrounds the soundboard. The grass area in front of the 124-foot-wide stage (which is 44 feet wider than the stage at Irvine Meadows) will seat about 5,500 depending on the configuration of seated versus standing room, which will be determined on a show-by-show basis. Guests can view seat configurations ahead of time via venue maps at Ticketmaster.com.
“One of the fun parts about this project is that it’s incredibly intimate for a 12,000-capacity venue,” Live Nation chief operating officer Matt Prieshoff said. “The furthest seat in the corner of this venue is closer than the back of the loge was at Irvine Meadows.”
FivePoint Amphitheatre’s 2017 season is a brief one, with just the kick off with Young the Giant and Cold War Kids on Oct. 5, followed by 95.9/FM’s The Fish Family Night with Jeremy Camp, Big Daddy Weave and We Are Messengers on Friday, Oct. 6 and JACK 93.1/FM’s 12th Show featuring the Offspring, 311, Cypress Hill, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Eve 6 on Saturday, Oct. 7.
However, last week, Live Nation announced its first FivePoint show of the 2018 season with One Direction’s Niall Horan’s solo Flicker World Tour featuring country star Maren Morris, which will hit the venue on Sunday, Aug. 5.
“We’re excited about that, too,” Gallagher said. “And there’s more to come.”
Though FivePoint Amphitheatre was initially scheduled to open on Aug. 26, there were some last minute hiccups with getting certain elements constructed and approved before that original launch date.
“We knew last year that it was going to be a tall order to not miss a season and despite all of the obstacles and challenges, we’re having a grand opening in October and it’s a very proud moment for us,” FivePoint chairman and CEO Emile Haddad said during a phone interview.
FivePoint and Live Nation also listened to the music fans when it came to wanting better entry and exit options into and out of a new venue. The main parking lot includes 4,000 spaces with three main roadways into FivePoint Amphitheatre including the newly added street, Chinon. Also, the Irvine Amtrak and Metrolink station is within a five-minute walk of the venue’s main entrance.
“In terms of vehicular, we have multiple ins and outs of the vicinity so you don’t have to come out the same way you came in,” Haddad explained. “More importantly, something that hasn’t been highlighted enough is that it’s within a couple hundred yards of the train station. People are going to be able to come to the concerts using the train and enjoy the shows and not have to worry about drinking (or parking). It’s a safety issue, it’s a traffic issue and it’s a lifestyle issue and it’s probably the most important thing that I see as a difference (from Irvine Meadows).”
As the next few seasons begin to shape up at the venue, FivePoint and Live Nation will continue to work with the city of Irvine to hopefully build a larger, permanent amphitheatre inside the Great Park’s growing cultural terrace.
“We worked very closely with Live Nation and had actually had a permanent design ready to go,” Haddad said. “Unfortunately the city wasn’t moving at the same speed and that’s really what got us to step up and promise that temporary amphitheater be built on our land and honestly, I don’t know where the progress is (on the permanent structure). It’s really in the city’s court right now to come up with a final design for the cultural terrace, which is supposedly where a permanent amphitheater goes. In the meanwhile, our amphitheater will be open and will be available and we will make sure people will enjoy live music while the city figures that out.”
Address: 14800 Chinon in Irvine, next to the Orange County Great Park.
Seats: 6,500 fold-down seats in the bleachers including the 280 seats within VIP boxes; Though 5,500 can comfortably fit in the grassy front-of-stage area, the seating versus standing configuration will change on a show-by-show basis.
Parking: 4,000 on-site parking spaces.
Concessions: Southern California eats from seafood-centric Tackle Box, American fare from Cassell’s Hamburgers, contemporary Korean cuisine from Hanjip Korean BBQ and more.
Bathrooms: Six four-stall bathroom trailers located on each side of the venue, plus dozens of portable toilets with hand washing stations.
Curfew: 11 p.m.
First show: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 with Young the Giant and Cold War Kids. Tickets, $29.50-$39.50, are available by calling 800-745-3000 or by going to Livenation.com.
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