The much-anticipated reopening of the Pacific Amphitheatre came to an abrupt halt Friday when the management announced it had canceled the only concert scheduled for this year.
Russ Kibota, a spokesman for the Orange County Fair and Exposition Center, said the Robert Cray Band and John Lee Hooker show scheduled for Sunday was canceled for fear it would exceed noise limits that were placed on the Pacific Amphitheatre by court order.
In a terse letter, an attorney for the former owner of the Pacific Amphitheatre accused MCA Inc., which booked the Robert Cray Band for Sunday, of ignoring the amphitheater's noise limits.
"I am . . . very surprised to learn that the Robert Cray Band has been booked to perform at the Pacific Amphitheatre and that they have been specifically told by MCA Inc., the bookers of the act, that they need not pay any attention to sound restrictions, can play as loud as they wish to play . . ," Neil Papiano said in a letter to Becky Bailey-Findley, general manager of the Orange County Fair and Exposition.
MCA officials could not be reached for comment.
Kibota said the owner informed the two bands that they would have to turn down the volume to play at the Pacific Amphitheatre, but that they "just did not like the restrictions." The band's manager, Mike Kuppus, said the band subsequently was told by MCA that the concert had been canceled.
With the exception of a pair of concerts during this year's Orange County Fair, the 18,500-seat amphitheater has been dark since 1993.
The amphitheater was been the subject of a long-running court battle between its owners and nearby residents that began in 1983, when it was built. The case was resolved in 1992 when a judge ordered the owner, Nederlander Inc., to sell the amphitheater to the state of California and ordered the state to establish strict noise limits.
The ruling also gave Nederlander authority to enforce those noise restrictions, even though it no longer was owner; hence, Papiano's letter to the amphitheater.
Earlier this year, Spectacor Management Group was hired to manage the Pacific Amphitheatre. It installed new sound equipment that is intended to prevent the music from disturbing neighbors.
Jody Kennedy, who oversees the Pacific Amphitheatre for Spectacor, said the company also planned to book quieter acts, such as opera, ballet, country and classical music.
The only other concert booked for the amphitheater this season was Julio Iglesias, who canceled his engagement due to a throat condition.
Times staff writer Karen D'Souza contributed to this story.
The scheduled concert Sunday at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa featuring Robert Cray and John Lee Hooker has been canceled. Today's Calendar section, which features a story on the concert, was printed before the cancellation was confirmed.