Live Nation could pull out of an agreement with Irvine for a 14,000-seat amphitheater in Great Park if the city moves ahead with a proposed scaled-down venue.

And Great Park residents are divided on just how big the concert venue should be.

In September, Irvine’s council approved an agreement with concert promoter Live Nation for the design, construction and operation of a permanent outdoor 14,000-seat amphitheater in Great Park, replacing the temporary FivePoint Amphitheater.

The total cost of the project was estimated at $130 million, with the city contributing $110 million and Live Nation $20 million. Live Nation would also pay the possessory interest tax: a property tax that private entities pay for leasing, renting or using public land.

However, city manager Oliver Chi said, Live Nation’s later counter-proposal was an “extensive reconfiguration of the deal.”

In its counter-proposal, the total cost for the project was increased by $20 million, with Irvine on the hook for the additional cost plus the possessory interest tax, according to city documents.

Given the extensive changes to the council-approved agreement, Chi said, city staff cannot approve the counter agreement, and it will require council approval.

City staffers have offered council members an alternative option: A smaller amphitheater, with a capacity for up to 8,000 and estimated to cost $80 to $90 million, according to city documents.

However, the scaled-back size might not get the greenlight from Live Nation.

“They don’t have any interest in operating anything less,” Chi said.

Christina Karas, a representative for Live Nation, declined to comment for this story ahead of the council meeting.

The community weighs in

Great Park residents are divided on plans for the amphitheater.

Parrisa Yazdani, who serves on the city-appointed Great Park Task Force, said she supports the bigger amphitheater. It would be “premature to end the negotiation,” she said.

“For me, it’s all or nothing,” Yazdani said.

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With a smaller amphitheater, she worries “about the viability of the acts that would be coming.”

City officials have compared the proposed smaller amphitheater to Los Angeles’ Greek Theater, located in Griffith Park. Yazdani said the artists hosted there haven’t caught her interest.

While the smaller amphitheater sounded “intriguing because it would cost less, it would be less traffic and we will be more (in) control over any of the noise,” David Lingerfelt, another task force member, still supports the larger venue.

“What really steered me towards a larger amphitheater are the acts and performances it could draw,” Lingerfelt said.

But Mark Deppe is not concerned with the noise or traffic that a larger venue could draw. Instead, the “rewrite of the contract (felt) like dealbreakers,” said Deppe, who supports a smaller venue.

“I’m really nervous about an agreement with Live Nation,” Deppe, who runs UC Irvine’s Esports program, said. “I feel like the benefit of a larger venue just comes with a marginal increase in the level of performers.”

A smaller venue, said Cadence Park resident Camiar Ohadi, could be a “community-centric place where the diverse city of Irvine can showcase its diversity with diverse musical acts, diverse theater acts, diverse dance acts.”

While residents remain divided, members of the music community largely support the 14,000-seat amphitheater in Great Park.

When Raquel Figlo was 12 years old, her mother took her to her first concert. They watched Def Leppard and Ugly Kid Joe perform at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. As a young adult, she went dancing with friends on Halloween night at the Irvine Meadows and watched the heavy metal band Danzig perform. Now, she is a music publicist.

The 14,000-seat amphitheater, Figlo said, would be a replacement for Irvine Meadows, a music destination in Orange County for all ages.

“Not having these (big name) bands come through Orange County affects my business,” Figlo said. “It’s not going to give me that chance to go and not only meet the bands (but) meet the industry people, meet the security.”

Andy Kinnon is the stage manager and crew chief at the FivePoint Amphitheatre, the same position he held at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater for 36 years. He supports the 14,000-seat amphitheater in Irvine as an opportunity for the city “to fill the headline artist slot that Irvine, California has become so famous for.”

Fans, he said, will not have to drive to Los Angeles or San Diego for “a larger capacity venue to accommodate the headline artists.”

OC Supervisor Don Wagner, a former Irvine mayor, said the 14,000-seat amphitheater “plays in very nicely with the bigger vision of Irvine and all of Orange County” becoming an “arts hub.”

“A community without a vibrant arts component is one that is stagnant,” said Wagner.

However, Aarti Chopra, a longtime Irvine resident who lives about six miles north of Great Park, worries the city could become a “giant concert-going metropolis.”

The “greed of City Council” and “the money that comes into Irvine has really tainted the community feeling in Irvine,” Chopra said.

Councilmembers will deliberate on the revised agreement with Live Nation and the second option of a scaled-down amphitheater at a council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m., at 1 Civic Center Plaza.