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Fair Board approves PacAmp remodel

First of four-phase project to make the outdoor theater nicer, less noisy for neighbors, will begin in August 2012.

September 24, 2011|By Alisha Gomez, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • A rendering of the Pacific Amphitheatre after renovations.
A rendering of the Pacific Amphitheatre after renovations. (Daily Pilot )

The Orange County Fair Board last week approved the first of a four-phase, $18.5-million remodeling project at the Pacific Amphitheatre.

Phase 1, which will cost $4.5 million, is set to begin in August 2012 and run through July 2013.

Work will be funded with cash reserves the board expects to have at the end of this year.

"The board decided it was important to pay with cash as we go," said OC Fair Board Chairman David Ellis. "That may change in the future, but for now, let's get the process started."

The amphitheater hasn't seen a major renovation since it was built in 1978 by Nathan Carter, Ellis said.

It's seen minor projects, such as the installations of an elevator for disabled patrons and a commercial kitchen backstage. It was also closed temporarily before reopening in 2003.

Overall, the renovation will see several additions and improvements to the amphitheater, including:

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•A new entrance from the Orange County Fair side of the venue to integrate the Pacific Amphitheatre with the rest of the fairgrounds.

•Replacement of 8,500 existing seats and the addition of 2,000 Terrace level seats.

•Renovation of the box offices, restrooms and concession stands.

•New landscaping, hardscaping, waterscapes and walkways.

•New party decks at the top of the Terrace level.

•Additional backstage dressing rooms and more restrooms.

•The possible remodeling and relocation of the Memorial Gardens building.

Also part of the project will be sound attenuation, ensuring that sound from the concerts doesn't disrupt surrounding neighbors — a once hot-button issue with nearby residents.

"As of now, we have not received one complaint since we reopened five or six years ago (in 2003)," Ellis said, something the board wants to keep that way.

Phase 1 will begin the early stages of the berm removal — a several-acre mound of earth at the back end of the venue. It also will include creating a new small entry and construction of several projects like retaining walls, monuments, ticket office locations and waterscapes and landscaping.

The Pacific Amphitheatre hosts a slew of big names each year. Past artists include the Steve Miller Band, Neon Trees, Melissa Etheridge, Weezer, Bill Cosby, Bob Dylan, Duran Duran and Selena Gomez.

Its 2011 summer concert series brought in $5 million, spokeswoman Robin Wachner said.

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