NO MORE DOOBIES HERE: The Doobie Brothers perform at FivePoint Amphitheatre in 2019. (Getty Images)
Shed was largest in the county by overall capacity
It’s the end of an era in the OC, as southern California’s Orange County is known, after the permanent closure Oct. 21 of Live Nation-run FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, which opened in 2017 as a temporary replacement for the old Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
The closure, which followed a Zac Brown Band show, marks the end of an era in a market that loses its largest-capacity shed. FivePoint could accommodate 12,000-plus, but Pacific Amphitheatre, on the grounds of the OC Fair & Event Center in nearby Costa Mesa, seats 8,500, about 2,000 more than FivePoint did.
The venue was always intended to be temporary, until the city could develop a permanent one, according to Live Nation.
“We were invested in the process for the permanent amphitheater in Irvine and were ready to move forward on to the next steps,” said Tom See, chief operating officer of Live Nation Venues.
The site, owned by real estate development company FivePoint, is surrounded by residential development that made continued operation of the shed untenable. The area where both FivePoint Amphitheatre and Irvine Meadows were located is in what’s known as Great Park, the site of the shuttered Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.
Irvine Meadows, for a time known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, had a capacity of 16,000 and operated from 1981 to 2016, until site owner the Irvine Company declined to renew the shed’s lease and demolished the venue.
The temporary site, owned by real estate development company FivePoint, is surrounded by residential development that made continued operation of the shed untenable.
Live Nation had supported a proposed city-owned, 14,000-capacity shed, but the plan did not go forward.
What’s next in a market that seems well-able to support an outdoor amphitheater?
Pacific Amphitheater remains an option for touring acts. Its summer bookings included Beck; Stephen Marley; The Green with Hirie, Mike Love, Jesse Royal and Common Sense; Smokey Robinson; Dwight Yoakam and Asleep at the Wheel; Styx; Ziggy Marley; Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke and Mario; and a host of others.
And soon to come online will be a 5,700-capacity concert venue at the multi-billion-dollar OCVibe! project surrounding Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
See said the phased openings of venues at OCVibe are irrelevant to the situation in Irvine.
“We believe in the future of music in this community and are open to future discussions to build an amphitheater in Orange County,” he said. “Irvine has always been a great destination for live music, and we are proud of our long history of operations in this market. We are exploring options to bring a new venue to the Orange County area.”
Many in the community were disappointed over FivePoint’s closure and showed support for a new shed, See said.
“FivePoint Amphitheatre consistently received high scores from fans in post-show surveys and we are proud of the experience our crew created for fans at this venue over the years,” he said. “An amphitheater is a valuable community asset, and this community has a long history of hosting memorable shows at both Irvine Meadows and FivePoint Amphitheatre. The city continues to review plans for its next venue and we are open to any future discussions on a new amphitheater.”
See said it’s also important to note a venue smaller than 14,000 would likely bring in less revenue and fewer big name acts and might not include the necessary noise-buffering infrastructure to contain sound.
“For now, we’d like to thank all of the artists and crew who’ve brought the magic of live music to Irvine for over 40 years,” a Live Nation statement read. “And thank you to the millions of fans who came out to make that possible. We made countless memories together, and we hope you enjoy thinking back on those times as much as we do.”
Irvine Meadows Amphitheater Totals (as reported to Pollstar):
Tickets sold: 4,330,495
Number of Shows: 408
Tickets sold: 3,915,381 tickets sold
Pacific Amphitheatre Totals
(Note: no reporting for 1994-2002; venue use was limited)
Tickets sold: 987,805
Tickets sold: 1,951,417