After years of portable stadium seating and a temporary stage, Irvine leaders are beginning the search for a location in the Great Park to replace the FivePoint Amphitheater with a permanent venue, teaming with concert promoter Live Nation find an ideal spot and design.

Live Nation has operated the temporary amphitheater since 2017; the property just outside the Great Park is owned by developer FivePoint.

The location off Marine Way near the southern end of the park was always meant to be a for-now solution after the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre was razed in 2016. A new permanent venue was always intended.

Tuesday night, April 26, the Irvine City Council agreed to an exclusive negotiating agreement with Live Nation, giving it 210 days to work with city officials to find a good spot at least 20 acres large within the Great Park and do some due diligence research, such as having a consultant help with sound mitigation, and work out a financing plan.

This agreement is just a first step, the council would later have to approve any finalized plan for building and operating a permanent venue, City Manager Oliver Chi said.

Live Nation will pay the city $30,000 to cover “consultants, attorneys, engineers, and other third-party services” needed in developing an amphitheater proposal.

Music fans have been pushing for a permanent concert venue in the Great Park. Members of Save Live Music Irvine, which launched around the time Irvine Meadows closed, have been fixtures at City Council meetings and Great Park community outreach events over the years.

They were also at Tuesday’s meeting, noting the economic benefits concerts have brought the city in the past with the millions of fans they attracted to town.

Bret Gallagher, president of Live Nation Southern California, told the City Council the entertainment giant was “solidly invested in the city of Irvine,” saying, “We’re committed to the city, committed to an amphitheater.”

“We’d love to save live music in Irvine,” he said. “Hopefully we can get that done.”

But there could be “all kinds of problems to overcome” in building a new facility, Councilman Larry Agran said, including finding a suitable location and considering how the noise may impact surrounding residential areas.

Great Park Manager Steve Torelli said complaints about sound were “not lost” on city leaders, emphasizing that coming up with a design that would mitigate, “if not potentially eliminate,” its impact would be key.