Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Shaikin has a column that, I think, fairly and accurately sums up why negotiations between the City and Anaheim and the Angels are stalled:
You’re the mayor. A guy walks into City Hall and offers to spend half a billion bucks to revitalize property owned by the city, at no cost to the city. What do you say?
If you’re Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, you call it a taxpayer giveaway.
This is not a knock at Tait. This is a tip of the cap toward a mayor who has been so incredibly successful in framing the debate surrounding the Angels’ stadium lease negotiations that the process has ground to a dead halt.
It has been six months since the Anaheim City Council voted to approve the framework of a deal designed to keep the Angels in town for the long term, and to determine how to cover the estimated $150 million needed to keep Angel Stadium up and running for the long term.
The Angels first asked the city for cash. The city, properly, said no.
So the two sides agreed the Angels would cover that $150 million and, in exchange, would lease the land surrounding the stadium — the parking lots — for $1 per year. If the Angels successfully developed the land, they could make back that money, and maybe more.
In Anaheim, the mayor has one vote on the City Council. Tait was outvoted, 4-1, but he has publicly objected to proceeding with the deal ever since.
It is not so much that Tait is the voice of the opposition. It is that Tait is the only voice.
Shaikin goes on:
Two prominent developers, who reviewed the proposed Angels deal for The Times on condition of anonymity, estimated Moreno might spend $250 million to develop the site into something about as large as The Grove shopping and entertainment center in Los Angeles, about $150 million for construction, and about $100 million for parking structures. Moreno could take on a development partner, but that would be his responsibility.
And, given that Moreno would want money-making amenities as well as the required infrastructure improvements to stay at Angel Stadium, one major league owner estimated Moreno might put $200 million to $400 million into the ballpark, in all. The Dodgers’ new owners have spent $150 million over the last two off-seasons on stadium upgrades.
Add it up, and Moreno might be in for more than $500 million. In fact, when former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt made a 2004 pitch for long-term Dodger Stadium improvements that included shops, concessions, parks, team offices, a team museum and two parking structures, he estimated the cost at $500 million.
All of this, remember, at no cost to the city of Anaheim.
The entire column is well worth reading.
It’s amazing and dismaying that the negotiations are stalled. The framework of a good deal for both Anaheim and the Angels has been in place for months, and yet nothing has happened – in large part due to half-truths and hysterical rhetoric. The most delay tactic by the anti-deal claque is a phony conflict-of-interest charge regarding the CSL study coupled with a demand to for yet another study of the economic impact of the Angels.The implicit and dubious underlying premise is that the council’s 4-1 vote to approve the Angels negotiations MOU was based entirely on the CSL report, and therefore a new report is necessary before anything can move forward.
This noisy claque will never, ever run out of excuses to delay and derail the negotiations. Shaikin is correct that there is a good deal here, “if only someone would speak up on its behalf.” That someone is the council majority. To paraphrase Ty Webb’s advice to Danny Noonan, “be the majority.”