Jody Kennedy, who has organized concerts at such venues as Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, has been named general manager of Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fairgrounds.
Kennedy said she'll bring a variety of family entertainment ranging from the opera, ballet, country music, comedy and children's shows to the amphitheater.
"We're very sensitive to the needs and wants of the community and the fair," Kennedy said. She added that they will not be booking big rock shows like AC/DC and Guns N' Roses.
That's bound to be music to the ears of the amphitheater's neighbors. For the past decade, the fairgrounds and neighboring residents have not lived in harmony, due to the loud volume coming from rock concerts.
Kennedy said the biggest challenge she's tackling is booking concerts for the fair.
"At this point, we're starting so late. Having worked in the amphitheater business in the past, normally we'd have the season booked by February," she said.
So far, there are no confirmations as to which musical groups will be appearing.
The 18,500-seat amphitheater was built in 1983 and owned by the Los Angeles-based Nederlander Inc. The battle over noise began soon after the amphitheater opened. In 1984, a homeowner who lived 2,300 feet away filed a lawsuit against the owners, contending that loud music violated Orange County's noise ordinance. A judge ordered the amphitheater to reduce the noise level.
But some residents were upset when the loud noise continued. In March, 1990, 39 residents from the Mesa del Mar neighborhood north of the amphitheater sued Ned West, the music promoter who operated the amphitheater at the time.
A 1992 judgment in that case required that the owners sell the facility to the state of California, and that whoever took over had to keep noise at a stricter level. In 1993, the fair bought the venue for $12.5 million.
The "new" Pacific Amphitheatre today looks the same, but the 10,000 lawn seatings are not being used. In addition, Kennedy said they're working with sound companies to install directional speakers to keep the sound within the amphitheater.
Kennedy worked as an events coordinator with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena for four years. At the Coliseum, she organized events varying from football games and ice shows to Grateful Dead concerts.
In her 14 years of facility management, she was director of concerts at Madison Square Garden, Dodger Stadium and the Coliseum.
Kennedy said she's happy to return to an open arena because she started out in the business at a 7,000-seat amphitheater in Vienna, Va.
"I've always enjoyed working in amphitheater," she said.