This article needs to be updated. In particular: the venue has closed.December 2018)(
Venue during Epicenter 2013
|Former names||Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre (1981-99; 2014-16)|
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (2000-14)
|Address||8808 Irvine Center Drive|
Irvine, CA 92618
|Seating type||Reserved seating, lawn seating|
|Opened||August 21, 1981|
|Closed||October 30, 2016|
Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre (formerly known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre) was an amphitheatre located in Irvine, California. The establishment was built in 1980 by Irvine Meadows Partnership (with 4 local investors) and it opened in 1981. In 2016 the amphitheatre was closed and demolished. It was the largest amphitheatre in Orange County, with 10,418 reserved seats and 5,667 on the lawn. The architect was Gin Wong Associates of Los Angeles. The unique design of this venue is that it was built on a hillside so the seats have a steep slope toward the stage.
The site was previously part of the Lion Country Safari, one of seven such parks located in the United States. The owner of the safari park held a 29-year lease, and subleased a portion to the owners of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in 1981. The safari park closed in 1984, with the owner still holding 13 years on the lease, which he then subleased to the operators of the Wild Rivers water park and the Camp Frasier (later Camp James) summer camp, which became the neighbors of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. The water park and summer camp closed in 2011, with the land turned into a housing development by the Irvine Company.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were the first rock act to perform there, on September 18, 1981. They were joined onstage by surprise guest Stevie Nicks, who performed "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" with the band.
The amphitheatre was famous for hosting popular music festivals, which includes: Area2 Festival, Fishfest, Gigantour, Lilith Fair, Lollapalooza, Projekt Revolution and Uproar Festival, a benefit concert for the recently deceased Social Distortion guitarist Dennis Danell. Ozzy Osbourne recorded a performance called Speak of the Devil at the venue on June 12, 1982, for home video release in Japan; said video was eventually released on DVD in the US in 2012.
Oingo Boingo would play its annual Halloween concerts here from 1986 through 1991, and one final time in 1993, before moving the remaining 1994 and 1995 shows to Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Live Nation (formerly SFX Entertainment) bought the lease on the Amphitheatre in 1998.
The Grateful Dead performed at the amphitheatre fifteen times from 1983 through 1989.
Because of the 1993 opening of the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (now Honda Center), Irvine Meadows became increasingly an alternative to the much larger Pond, in addition to being a venue for amphitheater tours.
The Eagles performed six consecutive nights from May 27-June 1, 1994, for their reunion tour entitled 'Hell Freezes Over'. Prince and The New Power Generation performed at the amphitheatre during the Jam of the Year Tour on October 12, 1997.
The Amphitheatre was renamed to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in April 2000. The 7 year sponsorship deal between Verizon Wireless and SFX Entertainment, then owner of the amphitheatre, was a multimillion-dollar contract. Verizon renewed this contract for another 7 years, extending it to 2014. It did not opt to renew a second time and the name reverted to its original "Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre" in 2015.
Gwen Stefani was the last performer for the venue on October 29 and 30, 2016.
The Irvine Company had informed the operators of the amphitheatre that the land lease would not be renewed after 2016, so the amphitheatre was closed and demolition started in November 2016, shortly after the final concert. The Irvine Company choose to build housing on the terrain, such that the entire space of the original Irvine-based Lion Country Safari land had become a 3,700-unit housing development.
Live Nation and FivePoint built a temporary amphitheatre at the Orange County Great Park named FivePoint Amphitheater in 2017, for a limited term of 3 years, based on the Conditional Use Permit process.