Recommended to our readers: this column by Los Angeles Times sports writer Bill Shaikin on the negotiation framework agreed to by the City of Anaheim and the Angels. Shaikin is able to see the big picture and how a deal based on this framework will keep the Angels in Anaheim for decades to come, take the taxpayers off the hook for $130-150 million in stadium renovations (or even lead to a new, privately-funded and built stadium), and the development and economic activation of a city-owned property that has languished under city ownership.
As the Anaheim City Council voted Tuesday to enter formal lease negotiations with the Angels, a consultant representing the city said owner Arte Moreno has emphasized he has the means to move the team elsewhere.
By a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Tom Tait in opposition, the City Council voted to allow the Angels to opt out of their current stadium lease as late as 2019, rather than the current date of 2016.
“The owner of the Angels has made clear in our discussions he has the resources and willingness to build his own stadium,” said city consultant Charles Black, president of CB Urban Development in San Diego.
Black also told the council the Angels could move to Irvine, Irwindale or “at least half a dozen potential sites” in downtown Los Angeles.
After the meeting, Black said Moreno had not mentioned specific alternative sites in the talks with Anaheim.
Angels President John Carpino declined to comment when asked whether team officials had held discussions with other cities.
The council vote authorizes negotiations based on deal points that include the team calling itself the Los Angeles Angels and dropping the “of Anaheim” suffix.
The Angels also would extend their lease through 2036 — and possibly as long as 2057 — in exchange for development rights to the parking lots around the stadium.
The stadium needs $130 million to $150 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years, according to a city report. That estimate accounts solely for infrastructure — electrical maintenance and upgrades, concrete repairs, waterproofing and such—– at the stadium.
The Angels would pay all of that cost and would pay above and beyond for any improvements that would generate additional revenue for the team, for example, more luxury seating.
The total costs might be so substantial, Black said, Moreno might well consider razing Angel Stadium and building a new one on the adjacent parking lot.
With no cost for land acquisition, Black said Moreno could build a new ballpark for $450 million to $500 million. Carpino said that could be an option.
Of course, las pulgitas of the OC blogosphere deride Shaikin’s opinion because he’s just…you know…a veteran reporter who covers baseball. What could he know about this issue compared to, say, an impecunious musician, a historic homes researcher, a small-time lawyer or a fired government employee? in my opinion, if Mayor Tom Tait changed his mind and came out in support of this framework, la pulgitas would do an about face and start accentuating the positive of it (or sink into sullen silence).
If you support keeping the Angels in Anaheim, renovating Angel Stadium at no cost to taxpayers and bringing increased economic vitality to that part of Anaheim, then this framework holds the promise of a very good deal for the city.