First phase of the 175-acre Great Park Sports Park is coming soon
On that day, Loggins sang in front of a visual projection, with renderings of what the Sports Park might look like once complete. “Where are the dreams that we once had?” Loggins sang. “This is the time to bring them back.”
Recently, press and visitors were invited back for a visit to the Sports Park construction site to get a look at its first phase, and to see how the dreams of a truly Great Park are becoming a reality. The progress being made is clear, and the prospects for the park are encouraging, even exciting.
The entire 175-acre Sports Park at the Great Park is being built by FivePoint, which will spend some $250 million to develop the 688 acres of the Great Park, including the Sports Park.
“We made a commitment to the city of Irvine to enhance the lives of residents here and throughout Orange County by developing unrivaled sports, recreational and other amenities,” says Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint. “I’m proud to share that we are on schedule in delivering the first phase of this major, multisport complex. We elected to invest almost $60 million more than the Irvine City Council required when they chose us as their Great Park partner in November 2013 because we want to enrich this community for generations to come with the highest-quality facilities.”
Phase one of the Great Park Sports Park features 25 hard-surface tennis courts, seven natural-turf soccer fields and five sand volleyball courts. Both the tennis and volleyball centers include championship courts with fixed seating for more than 100 spectators each. The centerpiece of phase one is the Championship Soccer Stadium with permanent seating for 2,500 spectators and grass-berm seating for another 2,500 spectators. The soccer stadium will include press, hospitality and concession spaces as well. All but the soccer stadium in this initial phase will be completed by the end of 2016.
All of the new Sports Park venues will include lighting for evening use, FivePoint officials point out. The lighting poles of the first phase are clearly visible for those visiting the existing amenities at the Great Park, including the visitor’s center, carousel, Orange Balloon and athletic fields already in place.
“As the city’s partner and selected Great Park developer, FivePoint is making good on its promise to offer residents of all ages a place to call home, where all generations can learn, play and thrive,” says city of Irvine Councilmember Christina Shea. “We welcome the opportunity to host youth and collegiate championships at the Great Park Sports Complex and see Irvine’s youth discover adventure and test their limits through sports and recreational activities.”
Still to come will be a baseball complex with seven fields, including a championship field with permanent seating for more than 1,000 spectators. There will also be a softball complex with five fields and a championship venue with seating for 500 spectators. Both baseball and softball complexes will have four batting cages each. Six synthetic-turf soccer fields, four basketball courts and a pair of “flex” fields totaling nearly 12 acres for lacrosse, cricket, rugby or soccer will complete the Sports Park. These facilities are currently estimated to be complete in 2018.
For those finding it hard to picture how large the Sports Park will be when complete, consider this: Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park is Irvine’s largest community park, at some 48 acres. That’s smaller than the first phase of the Sports Park. The existing North and South Lawn athletic fields at the Great Park total 37 acres. All of the community parks in Irvine total some 353 acres, according to the city’s website. At 175 acres when completed, all the phases of the new Sports Park will be more than 50 percent as large as all these 20 large parks combined. This includes Colonel Bill Barber, Heritage (36 acres), Harvard (26 acres), Turtle Rock (25 acres) and Mike Ward (22 acres), as well as the smaller community parks. For those who have enjoyed these parks for years and even generations, the idea that soon we’ll have half again as much space in which to play is impressive.
And all of the 38 smaller neighborhood parks and vistas in Irvine (less than 10 acres each) put together total 175 acres, the same amount of land dedicated to the new Sports Park.
“I loved growing up in Irvine because there were constant opportunities to learn and play,” says city of Irvine Planning Commission Chair Anthony Kuo. “We’re not only keeping this tradition alive with the FivePoint-developed Great Park Sports Complex, we’re also building an economic engine for our future. It’s reasonable to estimate that the complex will be a major boost to our local economy when fully operational. This is another way we’re creating a sustainable community for generations to come.”
When all is said and done, more than 4 million square feet of concrete runways where American heroes landed and took off for decades will have been removed and demolished. Most of that material is being repurposed and used to create the topography, pathways and hardscapes in areas such as Upper Bee Canyon and the Bosque, a 43-acre area with trees, shrubs and trails that is also well along in its development. As is the improvement of Marine Way, which will provide improved ingress and egress to the Great Park when the street reopens, which is planned to occur by the end of the year.
After years of lack of progress at the Great Park, a new phase is well underway. Some might call it the “get ’er done” era. FivePoint’s Emile Haddad has adopted a slogan of his own for the progress being made at the park: “Delivered as promised.”
“It’s a reminder for everyone that works for the company,” Haddad says. “Whether it is a promise made by us, or when we take on the responsibility of delivering a promise made by someone else, we will not rest until that promise is delivered.”