It’s full steam ahead for the temporary and permanent amphitheaters at the Great Park in Irvine.

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Great Park Board and City Council approved a three-year, $6.6 million contract for Irvine-based PSQ Productions, Inc., to operate the temporary venue and a nearly $15 million architectural and engineering contract for Populous, Inc. to provide services for a permanent amphitheater, including civil engineering, structural, audio/visual, acoustic and environmental noise control.

After the abrupt closure of FivePoint Amphitheatre left the city in a lurch for a live music venue, city leaders have worked toward building a temporary venue that would keep live music in Irvine until the completion of the new amphitheater.

Dubbed Great Park Live, the 5,000-seat temporary venue will be set up at the Great Park Sports Complex, primarily as a home for Pacific Symphony, in time for the 2024 summer season and will remain throughout the end of the 2026 season or until Irvine completes construction of its new amphitheater, which is slated to open in time for the 2027 summer concert season.

The city and PSQ Productions would share in ancillary revenues, including food, beverage and merchandise, while a 10% management fee on fixed costs would go to PSQ, said assistant city manager Pete Carmichael.

To help defray the high fixed cost, Carmichael said, the city also plans to make the temporary amphitheater available for cultural and community events.

On top of five Pacific Symphony shows, city staff foresees hosting approximately 15 shows at the amphitheater, including five Irvine Nights night market-style events, a handful of commercial acts as well as cultural and community events, such as school graduations, fundraisers and city signature events.

The commercial rental rate would be around $50,000 per night while local, community events would cost around $15,000.

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Site planning and work to add a minimum of 800 new parking spaces is well underway, said Carmichael. Staff has also secured a stage (which will be rented for three years) of the same size as the one that was at the shuttered FivePoint Amphitheatre, he said, which will accommodate the full complement of musicians in the Pacific Symphony.

“This feels like a wonderful step in between,” said Councilmember Mike Carroll, expressing relief that live music won’t go away. “This temporary amphitheater project is a wonderful opportunity in moving forward.”

“Having served a vibrant community like Irvine for over three decades, we’re continuously striving to enrich the lives of residents through our symphonic art form,” said Pacific Symphony’s president and CEO John Forsyte earlier this year when city leaders OK’d the temporary amphitheater.

On Tuesday, city leaders also greenlit staff recommendations to have the International Alliance for Theatrical and Stage Employees provide stagehand support at the venue. IATSE had already provided stagehand support at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre and most recently the FivePoint Amphitheatre until its closure.

Plans for the permanent amphitheater, an envisioned 8,000- to 10,000-seat venue intended to replace the shuttered FivePoint Amphitheatre, are also moving along. Staff will work with global architectural design firm Populous, which has thousands of projects in its portfolio that span multiple continents, according to its website, to design the venue, as well as with Los Angeles-based ASM Global, which operates hundreds of venues worldwide.

The selection of an independent operator for the permanent amphitheater will come after the city moves through the design process, according to city staff.