Say you own a rental house, and one day your tenant spends his own money to put in an expensive swimming pool and jacuzzi, complete with rock slide, grotto and tropical landscaping.

Would your reaction to your tenant spending an enormous sum to improve your property, “Hey! You’re only doing that for your own benefit!”

That’s pretty much the gist of Spencer Custodio’s latest Voice of OC article on Angel Stadium.

The headline and lede paragraph spell out the article’s angle:

“More Than Half of Money Spent on Angel Stadium Went to Projects Benefiting Angels, Not Maintenance”

The LA Angels of Anaheim have spent nearly $30 million the stadium over the past seven years, but only a fraction of that spending was for normal wear and tear maintenance, and more than half of the money was used on items that benefit the team like a scoreboard. 

Get that? When the Angels spent millions installing giant, state-of-the-art scoreboards in a stadium they don’t own, that only benefitted the Angels. The new right field scoreboard is the third-largest in Major League Baseball – but that is of no benefit to the City of Anaheim, the owners of the stadium. The Angels also spent a lot of money on improvements to the iconic Big A sign – which again, is owned by the city – but according to the Voice of OC, that only benefits the Angels.

The truth is is benefits the Angels….and the City….and the fans.  But that doesn’t fit the narrative governing Voice of OC coverage of the stadium.

Another regular, regurgitated feature of these articles is diminishing the tax-generation value of the Stadium area through false comparisons:

The 820-acre Platinum Triangle generated $5.1 million in sales tax in 2018 and is projected to produce $5.2 million this year. That number is up from the $3.5 million generated in 2010, according to a city document on its website

In comparison, Downtown Fullerton, which is a fraction of the size of the Platinum Triangle at roughly 65 acres, generated a little over $2.1 million in sales tax last year and the 74-acre Outlets at Orange generated $3.1 million for Orange. 

“You have a shopping mall that’s literally open 15 times longer a year than an arena or stadium,” [Professor Victor] Matheson said.  “The problem with stadiums in general is that stadiums have a tremendous amount of bed time where they’re not selling anything at all.” 

Do you see? Since the Platinum Triangle has more acreage than downtown Fullerton, the disparity in tax revenue should be more than twice as great. Right?

Missing from this comparison: the current iteration of downtown Fullerton was built out long ago, while the Platinum Triangle isn’t even close to finished. Once it is, the tax-generation gap will be massive.

As for Matheson’s inference that shopping malls are a better tax-generation bet than Angel Stadium and the Platinum Triangle: he forgets growing impact of the online shopping revolution on shopping malls. In Anaheim’s case, sales tax revenues are flat compared to the growth in TOT and property tax. On the other hand, if you want to go to a baseball game, you have to physically go to the baseball game.

While The Outlets are a strong tax generator for Orange, the city’s other shopping mall, The Village, is dying.

The article’s abritrary allocation of benefit from these improvements runs counter to logic and common sense.

Apparent News
You’ve heard of “vaporware”? Last week’s Voice of OC article on the Angel Stadium negotiations could be considered “vapor news.”

The headline and lede paragraphs (emphasis added) of the October 10 story:

Angel Stadium Appraisal APPARENTLY Leaked, Despite Anaheim’s Efforts to Keep Secret

The full appraisal of Angel Stadium is sitting in a binder in the Anaheim city manager’s office and only the City Council is allowed to see it, but IT SEEMS that the value of the stadium has already been leaked, according to ONE city councilman. 

“I have received information that SUGGESTS to me that people in our city already know what the appraisal prices are, that presumably should not know because they’re not Councilmembers or senior staff members. It is imperative now that we release this appraisal because members of our Council and possibly the mayor have allowed others to learn what the price is for the appraisal,” said Anaheim City Councilman Jose Moreno.

That means the Angels COULD know the appraised value, he said. 

“And IF some people know, then certainly Angels baseball knows. And that’s the whole reason they want to keep it private as a negotiation tactic,” Moreno said. 

That’s a lot of maybes – and no evidence the appraisal was leaked, beyond a speculative claim by the same councilman frantically trying to manufacture pressure for immediate release of the appraisal.

Moreno plants a story designed to support that effort. He claims “a resident” threw a number an appraisal figure at him. Moreno was “struck” by the alleged accuracy of the number, and “basically, to the folks that asked me, I could not deny the number.”

So, was it “a resident” who asked? Or “folks”? Details. shmetails.

So, based on nothing other than an unsubstantiated claim that an unnamed resident(s) asked him about an undisclosed appraisal number, Custodio writes an article misleading readers into thinking the appraisal was leaked.

Apparently, that is the news reporting threshold when it comes to Angel Stadium.

Moreno then uses the unsupported story generated by his unsubstantiated claim to call for the appraisal’s immediate release since “it’s already out there.”

A modicum of sleuthing would have turned up that Moreno gave an Angel Stadium update to the Anaheim Democrats Club on October 5. A few hours later, one of the attendees, Moreno supporter Vern Nelson, posted a comment on this blog in which he published figures he claims are from the appraisal.

Given the circumstances, the most likely source of an appraisal leak – if there is one – is Councilman Moreno.  One of his supporters at the Anaheim Democrats meeting throws out a number that Moreno decides is close enough and responds with a wink-and-a-nod.  Then Moreno calls Custodio and says the appraisal has been leaked, and based on nothing more than that, the Voice of OC publishes an article repeating Moreno’s claim.

Mission accomplished.