Irvine officials held a groundbreaking ceremony May 23 for several new amenities at the Great Park which will cost nearly $1 billion.
The changes include the construction of a 14,000-seat amphitheater, a public aquatics facility that will also be used by USA Water Polo’s Olympic teams, botanic and veterans memorial gardens, museums, more open space, a library, and food and beverages for purchase, among other amenities by 2029.
“I am ecstatic to lead this unique and innovative charge and I believe that the Great Park will be one of the best metropolitan parks in the world,” Councilmember Mike Carroll, who also chairs the Great Park Board, said in a statement.
At the ceremony, observers witnessed the demolition of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station building, and the debut of the new Great Park logo and website.
Among those in attendance were Irvine residents and local officials, who celebrated the beginning of what seems to be the park’s largest transformation.
“As Mayor of Irvine, it is very fulfilling to see a long-time promise come to fruition through today’s groundbreaking ceremony,” Mayor Farrah Khan said in a statement. “The community has helped guide the park’s development since 2005, and I am pleased to be able to bring that vision to life.”
Construction will begin next summer.
The project is funded mainly from the city’s budget, as well as state funds from a past redevelopment settlement, and revenue accrued from activities at the Great Park, according to city officials.
The location, in part, was the home of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station from 1943 through the turn of the century.
The park was designated a nature preserve by Orange County voters in 2001. Since then, it has added a soccer stadium, several sports fields, open space, and the Great Park balloon to name a few.
Irvine was again named the No. 1 city in California—and top five nationally—to ensure public access to parks in a report from the Trust for Public Land released May 23.