With the start of summer just a few months away, Irvine leaders are ramping up efforts to bring live music back to the city.

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Great Park board and City Council will contemplate staff recommendations on who will design and operate the permanent amphitheater and the temporary amphitheater that are in the works after the abrupt closure of FivePoint Amphitheatre left the city in a lurch for a live music venue.

Should the city move forward with staff recommendations, a three-year, $6.6 million contract will be awarded to Irvine-based PSQ Productions, Inc., to operate the temporary venue, and a nearly $15 million architectural and engineering contract will be given to Populous, Inc. to provide services for the permanent amphitheater, including civil engineering, structural, audio/visual, acoustic and environmental noise control.

Temporary amphitheater

City leaders last month unanimously threw their support behind a 5,000-seat venue to be set up at North Lawn, a 7-acre multipurpose recreation area at the Great Park Sports Complex, and cater to Pacific Symphony‘s summer performance calendar.

The temporary venue will be set up 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, the staff report says.

The city would have ultimate authority to choose and schedule events “to limit calendar conflicts at the Great Park and impacts to the neighborhood,” according to the staff report.

To offset fixed costs, the city also plans to make the temporary amphitheater available for community events, such as school graduations, fundraisers and city signature events.

A food and beverage location that can serve the sports park and act as a “gathering place for the neighborhood for the next two to three years until the planned retail center opens,” according to the staff report, is also a part of the city’s plans.

PSQ, a local event management company, has worked with the city in the past: It produced and operated several city events including Irvine Nights and the city’s 50th anniversary celebration.

The company’s “local presence and intimate knowledge of the Great Park,” according to city staff, will allow them to expedite procuring necessary equipment, hiring staff and marketing the temporary amphitheater for the 2024 season. PSQ will work in tandem with San Diego-based event production company Gravity Productions, which will focus on talent acquisition.

Work to expand parking areas is already underway. Once the expansion is completed, there will be approximately 200 new parking spaces on the Civic Site directly across Phantom Street, and approximately 600 new spaces on the existing parking lot located to the northeast of the venue, according to city staff.

Permanent amphitheater

The envisioned 8,000- to 10,000-seat venue, intended to replace the temporary FivePoint Amphitheatre, which closed last year, is slated to open by summer 2027. Moving forward with that plan, the city will consider hiring the architectural design firm Populous for civil engineering, structural, audio/visual, acoustical and environmental noise control services.

City staff has also recommended Los Angeles-based ASM Global to serve as the city’s consultant during the design process, according to the staff report.

The final design for the permanent amphitheater is expected in early 2025, the report says.

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Populous, a global firm, has thousands of projects in its portfolio that span multiple continents, according to its website. They include the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London; the London 2012 Olympic Stadium; State Farm Stadium in Arizona; the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan and the Sphere in Las Vegas.

ASM Global, which operates hundreds of venues worldwide, manages day-to-day operations for several venues close by, including the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the Toyota Arena in Ontario, according to the staff report.

The Great Park board will meet at 2 p.m. at 1 Civic Center Plaza to discuss plans for the temporary and permanent amphitheaters, and the matter will be brought up again at the regularly scheduled council meeting set for 4 p.m.