IRVINE, CA — The Orange County Great Park, which some mockingly have called “not-so-great park” for its limited amenities, will soon get a huge boost.
The city on Aug. 5 will host a grand opening of the first phase of the 194-acre Great Park Sports Park. The public will be able to enjoy activities at new facilities including a 2,506-seat soccer stadium (with berm seating for additional 2,500 spectators), six soccer fields, 25 tennis courts and five sand volleyball courts on 53 acres opening that day.
Watch the aerial view video of the latest Great Park development.
When completed, the sports park will also feature six additional soccer fields, 12 baseball and softball fields and lawn areas large enough to accommodate five more soccer fields.
The sports park is the first major facility to open at the Great Park since a newly elected City Council in 2013 decided to change the course of the park development.
Councilwoman Christina Shea said the Aug. 5 opening marks the beginning of many more features that will come to the Great Park in the next few years.
“It’s a big park,” Shea said. “It takes time to grow. … Now that all that infrastructure is in there, we are starting to see the fruit of the development.”
The city has so far developed 200 acres of the land. Amenities include the Great Park balloon, a carousel, visitor center, kids rock play area, walkable historical timeline, a Hangar 244 event center, an arts complex, horticulture area and sports fields.
The 1,300-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro site owned by the city could match the size of San Diego’s Balboa Park when fully developed.
The new sports park is part of the 713 acres developer FivePoint is building for the city in exchange for approval to build more than 4,600 homes adjacent to the park. That portion will also include an 18-hole golf course, trails, agricultural fields, playgrounds, open space and a wildlife corridor.
The trails and open green spaces could open in the fall, Shea said. The 188-acre municipal golf course is expected to be completed by spring 2019.
The Anaheim Ducks in February began construction of a 270,000-square-foot community ice complex and practice facility at the Great Park. The complex, the largest of its kind in California, is slated for a July 2018 opening.
Moreover, the city is negotiating with Wild Rivers to open a 30-acre water park with an uphill water coaster, water slides and lazy river. That could be open by summer 2019.
“I think we are going to see a large part of this park built in the next three to five years,” Shea said.
Brian Foster, South Irvine commissioner of the American Youth Soccer Organization, said by email he hopes the new fields at the sports park will free up the city’s other facilities.
“We are not expecting to receive any of the Great Park facility fields in our allocations,” he wrote. “I do, however, think it will have a huge role to play when it comes to AYSO in Southern California having facilities we can use for tournaments such as area, section, and state playoffs.
“AYSO also holds a national tournament every year and the Great Park would offer the ideal location to hold this national tournament where AYSO teams from around the nation (and 6 international countries) could come and play,” he wrote.
The Aug. 5 grand opening is 2-9 p.m. No RSVP is needed. All fields will open at 2 p.m., followed by a 3:30 p.m. ribbon cutting and a soccer match inside the stadium.
During the day, there will be exhibitions on the soccer fields, tennis courts and volleyball courts. A new children’s play area will also be open. Food trucks will be on site 2-8 p.m.
A free family concert will begin 7:15 p.m. inside the stadium.