Amphitheater Suit Settled for $16 Million

A concert promoter will pay the Orange County Fairgrounds about $16 million to settle the Pacific Amphitheatre lawsuit, The Times has learned.

The agreement was brokered in secret Monday during jury deliberations, but sources close to the case confirmed the figure.

In the lawsuit, the Orange County Fair Board of Directors sought to rescind a 1993 agreement in which it purchased the amphitheater from the Nederlander Organization.

The board alleged that contract provisions limited noise levels to the point that the amphitheater was useless as an outdoor concert venue.

Nederlander lawyers denied the allegations, saying the board was aware of the requirements.

Though major portions of the case are accounted for, one matter remains unsettled: how loud the concerts can be.

That will be debated June 30 when attorneys for the fairgrounds and a lawyer representing residents living near the amphitheater meet in Superior Court.

The fair board wants to end the sound restrictions so that adult-oriented musicians can play to crowds in the 18,500 fixed seats. Lawn seating would not be allowed.

"Obviously, it's something we want to at least break even on and keep functional," said Jill Lloyd, spokeswoman for the fairgrounds.

Homeowners are seeking to retain the sound restrictions.

"We think the existing standard and restriction provides a reasonable balance," said Richard L. Spix, the homeowners' lawyer. "I think it's an inferior location. It's not like Irvine Meadows in the jet path."

Judge Robert E. Thomas will rule on the validity of the sound agreement.

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