FivePoint to Keep Great Park Balloon Aloft and Free for Riders

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Main News Photo

In an Oct. 22 decision, FivePoint entered into a sponsorship agreement with the City of Irvine to support the operation and maintenance of the Great Park Balloon—originally a gift from the developer to the city—for the next five fiscal years, and drop the $10 admission charge for riders.

The balloon has been at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine since before there even was a park. During this time, more than 500,000 riders have actively enjoyed the balloon, which has become a widely recognizable attraction at the Great Park. Until Irvine struck the sponsorship deal with FivePoint, city leaders worried they’d have to shut the balloon down because it was operating at a significant deficit for several years.

Children jump on a field of grass in front of the large, orange Great Park Balloon.

“The Great Park Balloon has become Irvine’s signature icon, said Wendy Haase, vice president, Destination Irvine. “It is utilized throughout our destination marketing efforts so we are grateful to FivePoint for making this investment.” 

In an effort to recover a portion of operating costs, Irvine City Council adopted balloon ridership fees in 2013. However, keeping prices reasonable to support public access has not substantially offset operating costs incurred by the city. The balloon is projected to have a net cost of approximately $2.6 million over the next five fiscal years, a large portion needed for maintenance.

“This is really great news,” Mayor Christina Shea said. “Now we’re saving residents a million, almost a million dollars a year.”

The effort focused on ensuring the highest public access while minimizing net financial costs to the city. The result is a beneficial proposal that eliminates operating costs for the city while generously providing free balloon rides for the public during weekly operating hours on Thursday through Sunday.  

Sources: FivePoint, OC Register

Category: Destination Irvine, Member News, Community News