Just as the clock struck midnight, Irvine councilmembers decided against making any changes, just yet, to a proposed amphitheater in Great Park.

Instead, after almost six hours of debate and public comment, the City Council decided in a split vote during a special meeting on Tuesday that bled into Wednesday, Feb. 22, to continue negotiations with Live Nation for the Great Park amphitheater. That means city staffers, councilmembers and Live Nation representatives can go back to the drawing board on the specific details of the proposed concert venue.

Tuesday’s special meeting was announced on Friday evening, yet about 100 people spoke out about the proposed concert venue in Great Park.

Crazy Tomes strummed his guitar to sing his support for a proposed 14,000-seat concert venue. Oingo Boingo drummer Johnny Hernandez joined food and beverage union workers, carpenters, stagehands and some Irvine residents in voicing their excitement about how the larger venue would rival Irvine Meadows, with some sharing memories of bygone times spent at the former outdoor arena that closed in 2016.

Social media has also been buzzing with support for a 14,000-seat venue with Live Nation. Raquel Figlo, a music publicist based in Irvine, shared videos of Tommy Lee from Motley Crue, Rick Allen from Def Leppard, David Ellefson, formerly of Megadeth and even Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, all voicing support for the larger theater.

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However, other Great Park residents voiced their concerns about a large venue. Instead, they spoke out about the benefits of a smaller space and how it can help mitigate concerns about noise and traffic. One Great Park resident shared, during public comment, an analysis of public comment that showed Irvine residents overwhelmingly supported a proposed smaller, 8,000-seat amphitheater.

In September, the City Council approved an agreement with Live Nation for the design, construction and operation of a permanent outdoor 14,000-seat amphitheater to replace the temporary FivePoint Amphitheatre.

However, City Manager Oliver Chi said Live Nation later sought an “extensive reconfiguration of the deal,” including an additional $20 million investment by the city. And city staffers at a council meeting held on Feb. 14, offered councilmembers the choice of a smaller venue as an alternative option. However, discussions on which direction Irvine would go were postponed to Tuesday night.

Live Nation officials have said that “the latest agreement reflects terms that both sides align on” after additional talks and also said “the 14,000-capacity amphitheater could be built within the initial $130 million budget that was previously approved.”

Further, Jon Bauman, a Live Nation legal representative at Tuesday’s council meeting said, “Live Nation hadn’t had a chance to provide any comments on the long-form agreement” before the council approved it in September. That agreement, Bauman said, was just a first draft and “a jumping point for negotiations.”

Negotiations, said Councilmember Mike Carroll, are a “set of nine innings.”

Using the baseball analogy, Carroll said “we are not even in the 7th-inning stretch,” urging his colleagues on the dais to continue hashing out a deal with the concert provider.

Carroll, Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Tammy Kim voted for containing negotiations with Live Nation for the 14,000-seat large venue.

“I think they (Live Nation) must take us for chumps,” said Councilmember Larry Agran about Live Nation’s redlined proposal for the agreement approved by the council in September.

Agran, who was the lone vote against the Live Nation deal in September, voted against continuing negotiations with Live Nation along with Councilmember Kathleen Treseder.

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