Two new projects opening

The Orange County Great Park on Saturday will officially open a multi-purpose field for soccer, football and other sports, as well as an arts complex.

The North Lawn and the Palm Court Arts Complex will open during an event marking the park's sixth anniversary.

The North Lawn will feature an open sports field, walking and biking trails. The Palm Court Arts Complex will be a 10,000-square-foot gallery and studio space with an outdoor plaza.

Both the North Lawn and arts complex are pieces in Phase 1 of the park's Western Sector Development Plan, which broke ground in October. Other elements of the large-scale development project, such as a 14-acre picnic meadow and the rehabilitation of Hangar 244, will begin opening in stages in late July, according to park spokeswoman Jennifer Starnes.

A South Lawn with three lighted soccer fields is scheduled to be completed in 2012, bringing the project to a total of 225 acres at a cost of nearly $70 million.

Construction will proceed in phases as funding comes in thought the public-private partnership with Five Point Communities, the developer of the Great Park Neighborhoods, which will share much of the park's infrastructure, Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Beth Krom, who chairs the park's board of directors, said Friday.

"We have been focused on pre-activating the park as opposed to opening the whole park when every feature is in …," Krom said.

Saturday's activities will include aerial acts, cooking demonstrations, arts and culture exhibits, military vehicles, live music and a fireworks display.

The event will also include an appearance from LA Galaxy soccer star Mauricio Cienfuegos and soccer clinics from the Coast Soccer League and UCI coaches.

Starting in August, the public can participate in drop-in sports clinics at the park.

"In one place, at the center of Orange County, people can drop in on a sports clinic, take a short stroll for a ride on the Great Park Balloon, then visit the art gallery and take in a concert," said Great Park Chief Executive Mike Ellzey. "All free, and available to every member of the Orange County community."

Also included in the Western Sector Development, but rolled out earlier this year, is the Great Park Community Farm, which provides fresh produce to the Great Park Farmers Market.

Kids Rock, a natural play area, and a carousel opened at the 5th anniversary event.

"I really believe that what we're creating here is the heart and soul of Orange County," Krom said. "It is a place that is accessible to everyone and offers something for everyone."

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