Two separate Facebook pages were created last month, both calling for keeping the Angels in Anaheim. But only one of them is disguised as a pro-Tom Tait page. The Keep The Angels page is the one that seams to have been set up by the Anaheim Chamber and it has more than 9,000 likes. Meanwhile, a Keep the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim site has popped up and it’s loaded with links supporting Mayor Tom Tait’s position on the Angels lease for the Big A. Anaheim blogger Cynthia Ward is an administrator and the contact information is for the Orange Juice blog. The two main OJ bloggers haven’t attended an Angels game in years, so color me skeptical on how hardcore they are as fans. The principal purpose of the page, which has less than 600 likes, is to promote Tait and criticize the current negotiations with the Angels. From the description of the second page:
In a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the City Council approved a framework for negotiations that grants Moreno the land around the stadium for 66 years at $1 per year.
The idea is that Moreno could use revenue from development of the property — which is entitled for more than 5,100 residential units, 3 million square feet for office space and 3 million square feet for commercial space — to finance up to $150 million in improvements for the stadium. And Moreno would be allowed to drop “Anaheim” from the team’s current name, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The City Council majority also gave Moreno nearly three more years to decide whether to quit the stadium and move to another city. The council majority said that without the additional time, Moreno might panic and act irrationally during negotiations on a long-term lease.
However, Mayor Tom Tait, who cast the only dissenting vote, and academic experts who study stadium deals, said that by allowing Moreno more time to organize a credible threat of moving, the city gave away key negotiating leverage.
Tait argued that the proposed deal is lopsided. Moreno is already required to make the renovations under the current lease, Tait said. The city isn’t getting anything more than it already has, yet it is giving away land and a stadium that has a combined replacement value approaching $1 billion.
If anything, the city would lose not only land but also community pride, because Moreno could keep “Los Angeles” and drop “Anaheim” from the team’s name.
“A reasonable compromise would be if the Angels drop Los Angeles, and we drop Anaheim, and change it to something that includes Anaheim, like California Angels, or Southern California Angels, or Orange County Angels,” Tait said.
“The other part would be a joint venture where we put up the land, and the we split the profits, 50-50, or some sort of reasonable split, where the taxpayers get something out of it … something commensurate with putting up real estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars. … That’s what a reasonable deal would be. It could be a win for us and a win for them.”
When Baltimore lost the Colts to Indianapolis, it was a significant economic blow to the city. When Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore, the city gave Modell all the revenue from the stadium, parking and signage. The Browns took $175 million for stadium improvements for the Modell Browns and used it towards the construction of the new stadium for the expansion Browns.
Closer to home, look at what Sacramento did to keep the Kings there in the NBA and it involves a new publicly finance arena. And where those saying any new Angels stadium would face a 10 year wait due to the California Environmental Quality Act, well the State Legislature blew past that timeframe for the Sacramento Kings new arena. A new Angels stadium, which would cost two to four times the cost of the new Arena, will all those construction jobs at good wages, might see the Legislature greenlight any new stadium site just as fast.
From the story:
Easing the path for the arena was part of the pitch Sacramento made to the NBA earlier this year in its effort to keep the team from moving to Seattle. The arena proposal would still be required to go through a full environmental review process, but the legislation would limit when a court could halt construction and allows for mediation instead of court battles.
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, described the proposed arena as a “transformative” project for Sacramento, saying it would create 4,000 jobs.
Several Assembly Republicans expressed frustrations at singling out a particular project for legal exemptions. Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert said lawmakers should instead work on making it easier for all projects to comply with environmental rules.
“This is unequal treatment under the law,” Nestande said. “We’re picking and choosing what projects we think are appropriate to be built.”
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, said the pattern of bills providing exemptions for specific projects, such as a prior measure to help build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles, show that the environmental law isn’t working.
“At some point we have to come together as a body and fix this broken law,” Olsen said.
The CEQA Working Group, a coalition of business, housing and local government leaders leading the push for comprehensive reforms, issued a statement Thursday evening saying SB743 represents “only a very marginal improvement” and that the group will continue to seek changes.
“It is not the comprehensive reform that we need to support environmentally responsible job-inducing projects that our state needs,” said Gary Toebben, a co-chairman of the coalition group and president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Proponents such as Mayor Kevin Johnson and a coalition of business and union boosters describe it as an economic boon for Sacramento – a jobs and revenue bonanza. Opponents whose signature-gathering campaign was funded largely by a billionaire who unsuccessfully tried to move the Kings to Seattle believe that a $258 million public subsidy for the arena could wreck city finances.
It’s curious that the men who made the arena financing deal with the Kings – who know more about it than anyone else – are relatively quiet while less knowledgeable people debate the issue.
Sacramento City Manager John Shirey and City Treasurer Russ Fehr have a story to tell about the proposed arena that puts it in a sober context devoid of the hype of arena boosters.
Unlike many arena proponents, Shirey is respectful of those who wonder why the wealthy Kings owners don’t pay for the arena themselves.
“I acknowledge that people have a point,” Shirey said. “It’s a legitimate question.”
If I were to bet money, I’d wager that Fehr – in his heart – was as big an arena opponent as there was in Sacramento at one time.
Some say Sacramento is using taxes to pay for the arena. “People are purposely misleading other people,” Shirey said. “It is not taxes.”
Others say Sacramento’s plan is a raid on the city’s general fund.
“It’s not against the general fund,” Fehr said. “In the city financial reporting, it’s affiliated debt … It won’t be reported against our general fund debt ratio.”
What is the arena project then?
Fehr calls it what it is: an important “amenity” for the city with the Kings as an important asset. Shirey calls it a public policy call by the city.
“The way I deal with it is, if we hadn’t agreed to (a $258 million subsidy) this (ownership group) probably would have walked away,” Shirey said. “We are not a lucrative market. There is not a way for franchises to get their money back through lucrative TV deals here. We don’t have a lot of corporate wealth. Unfortunately, we are in a position where we have to make up other wealth that’s missing in our community.”
So why is this a good deal for Sacramento?
“While it may be downplayed in academic studies, the Kings are a great source of pride in this community,” Shirey said.
The competing Facebook pages tell a stark contrast. But the argument of grassroots versus astroturf for both sites is weak sauce.
Until Arte Moreno begins negotiations with the city and the public is made aware of his vision for Anaheim and the stadium site, I think everyone needs to take a breath. My biggest concern about the Angels now is signing some decent starting pitching and shoring up the bullpen. And Josh Hamilton had better start playing like he used to.