LAT Columnist: Something Has To Give In Angels Negotiations

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.”

18 comments

  1. “The city’s lead negotiator, Charles Black, resigned last month.”

    ABOUT TIME. Good riddance.

    If this is really stalled, it would take three votes. Anaheim owes some serious gratitude to whoever those three voices are.

    The framework sucks, Matt. Nothing has happened with it because it sucks– not because of half truths. It has a sucky term, it has sucky disjointedness between its two halves, it has a sucky rent payment, it has sucky tax rebate incentives, and it has a sucky lack of respect for both Anaheim tax payers and Angel fans who built the team.

    But even it only half sucked (your half truth), that’d be enough to not let it progress. It should be entirely suck-free.

    • I wish I had a job where I could spend all day commenting on blogs!

    • Toyota is leaving California for Texas. Certain segments of the economy are collapsing. Not the time to be greedy Mr. Cantor. The city should be happy the Angels owner is willing to do anything here.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. But I will give you this, Ryan: you assert your wrong opinions with great certitude.

      The framework is good for Anaheim. It keeps professional baseball in Anaheim. Long-idle city land is put to economically productive use. The Angels pay for rehabilitation of the stadium.

      Now you’ll probably repeat the standard talking point that the Angels are obligated to pay for repairs and maintenance. The part you and the rest if the gang (as well as the VOC) always omit is the Big If: IF the Angela stay.

      Next, you’ll probably use Talking Point 2: the Angels have nowhere to go. This is more of a magical incantation chanted by opponents of the negotiations than anything else – because of course the Angels can leave. You know that perfectly well, even if the ankle-biter brigade is in denial.

      Now, you might come back with Talking Point 3: that’s the fault of the council majority for extending the opt-out period. Otherwise the city had them over a barrel. Which again, is wrong. As events have shown, the most likely outcome of not extending the opt-out is that the Angels would have already pull the opt-out trigger and the city would now be trying to figure what to do with an empty professional baseball stadium, rather than engaged in sputtering negotiations.

      • You know, Matt. I hear if you repeat something three times– it magically comes true. Good work on that. Your tone sucks. The MOU sucks. And your argument sucks, too.

        Now, traditionally, when refuting a point that’s wrong, a person typically prepares arguments that oppose an opponent’s point of view. I said the content of the MOU was stupid.

        You, on the other hand, decided tradition was not for you. Instead, you spent the majority of your space lecturing me on the URGENCY of entering into negotiations. While this may be easier for you to speak to as the actual terms outlined in the MOU are rubbish, I think you’re going to be forced to concede that telling me that the content of the MOU is acceptable because the matter was urgent does not infact a linear argument make.

        So, we’re down to three points, Matt. I’ll concede two. Seems fair, right?

        Negotiating a new lease with the Angels is absolutely prudent and the matter is urgent. It is not so urgent that the MOU needed approval the first Tuesday after a holiday weekend with little or no notice to the public based on an economic study that had been approved not even a week before. Less than a week of work to support the next 66 years of Anaheim’s largest public asset.

        The council did not need to commit the city to terms in an MOU, but it did need to take some action. Negotiating in good faith was (and still is mind you) sufficient at that point given the length of the remaining opt out window and the best information available to the council.

        I also concede the Angels have options in where they chose to play baseball; however, options outside of Anaheim have a tremendous cost. Relocating the club carries a financial penalty north of one billion dollars. Anaheim had not, and has not, given sufficient financial justification for Moreno to incur such an economic penalty. For your argument to be true, Moreno would have to act irrationally. Why you’re running around accusing a very wealthy man of being financially reckless is beyond me. Recent events demonstrate no such recklessness and you substantiate your argument on a weak rumor from Tustin is just sad.

        Now, what I won’t concede is this little gem of yours: “Long-idle city land is put to economically productive use.”

        Hey! Everyone! If the government has vacant land, you can set up camp and squat on public space to put it to economically productive use because . . . that’s what good government looks like! Just look at Bundy and his ranch. He’s a real winner and you can be, too. Government welfare for everyone!

        That’s no way to run a system of government, Matt.

        Also, given this statement, Matt . . . perhaps you and Ms. Murray should pay the OCWD a visit and retract your opposition to a power plant being constructed on long-idle government land. A private party wanted to put it to economically productive use and you said no. I mean geez, if it’s good enough for the Angels who hired the right political consultants, it must also be a good enough reason for a power provider who didn’t hire the right political consultants . . . or did I get that backwards?

        Keep guessing what I’ll say next. Going really well for you so far.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          Is soldering Cliven Bundy to whatever/whomever argument/person is being opposed the new debate technique from your side? First Ward, and now you?

          • That’s it? Really?

            Matt, you’re the one running around telling people that it’s a good thing that public land be given away for free. That’s the new debate technique.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              No, Ryan. Because it hasn’t been given away for free. Nothing has been given away for free. No one is proposing giving it away for free.To say that is to say something untrue. You may recall there is no actual deal.

              And no, that’s not it. But I didn’t feel like responding to a long comment at midnight.

              • Ah, right. One hundred fifty acres for sixty six years for the whopping sum of one dollar a year isn’t free.

                Wait a minute . . .yes it is!

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  Saying something over and over doesn’t make it true, Ryan. Unless you, alone on this planet, know of an actual negotiated deal between the Angels and Anaheim that GIVES away the land for FREE.

                  You’re demogaguing.

                  • I’ll take a page from your book then.

                    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

                    You just said the city should advance a final deal in lines with the terms of the MOUs. YOU JUST SAID IT, MATT.

                    The MOUs give it away for free. Own up, sir.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      Yes – along those lines. I didn’t say for a dollar-a-year. There is a huge difference between a framework and a detailed, negotiated agreement.

                      Now, I’m going to state, “The sky is blue.” Go!

                    • Well, the Angel’s attorney seems to think that “along those lines” means “one dollar a year”. Take it up with them. Geez, I wonder why they might think that . . .

                      Of course the sky is blue. Glad to see you’ve got something right today.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      Ryan, I think you know the dollar-a-year in essence means lease for a nominal sum, because the larger package (and it should be looked at as such, and not nit-picked apart as if each negotiation point were an independent, stand alone item) is for the Angels to use the revenue generated to pay for stadium upgrades.

                      Let me point out AGAIN – there is no deal with a dollar-a-year stipulation. None. Because there is no deal. I realize your side has engaged in demagoguery on this issue for months as if there is a deal, and misleading the public into thinking there is a deal – but in fact, there is not a deal.

                    • None? Are you privy to closed session material that the rest of us are not?

                      If so, let me know who broke the law and shared that information with you.

  2. Anaheim Resident

    Matt – I hear chirping … Let the crickets continue! There may be an annoying insect of a blog commenter but their opinions are totally irrelevant. This was a great story and it will hopefully begin to expose the lunacy of the Mayor and his attack dogs.

  3. The Angels fans built the team? Whaaaaaa????

  4. When is Tom Tait going to publicly announce how Anaheim is going to come up with $150 million to fix its Stadium?

    Don’t forget, the Angels just want to play baseball here, not buy the stadium. Does Tait think the residents should pay a $150 million to fix the stadium the City of Anaheim owns?

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