The Angels are the proud owners of baseball’s best record and should they win the AL West, they’d have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and World Series. And Angels fans ought to enjoy it while it lasts because if Tom Tait gets re-elected to the Mayor’s Chair in November, it just may be the deathknell for the team’s time in Anaheim. Angels owner Arte Moreno appears to have no love for Mayor Tait and negotiations are stalled and likely not to resume until after the season is over and election day is behind us.
I’m convinced if Tait is re-elected, the Angels are gone. The LA Times baseball writer Bill Shaikin all but confirms my fears in a story from yesterday’s paper. He writes: “Angels owner Arte Moreno is looking for a better fan experience too, either in a renovated stadium in Anaheim or a new ballpark elsewhere in Orange County.
We are 10 days shy of the one-year anniversary of what appeared to be the resolution, a tentative agreement in which Moreno would pay for the estimated $150 million in Angel Stadium renovations and would get the right to try to make his money back from developing the surrounding parking lot, at no cost to the city of Anaheim.
Mayor Tom Tait objected, saying the parking lot was too valuable to lease to Moreno at $1 per year. A subsequent appraisal commissioned by the city valued that land at $225 million.
But the appraisal also valued the land at up to $325 million if the stadium were demolished, and Moreno was agitated that the city would assess that option if it were intent on keeping the team.
There have been no negotiations since the appraisal was released in May, and the Angels have considered sites in Tustin and Irvine, with the Tustin site currently considered the most feasible alternative.
And Shaikin does reveal a new detail from the Moreno camp not previously disclosed; the Angels are willing to share profits from any development in the stadium parking lot.
“Moreno already has four of the five City Council votes, if the council cares to vote before the election. The Angels have agreed to share profits from any development. There is a deal to be made here, if the City Council cares to stand up and make it.”
So if the Angels will share profits with the city, what exactly is Tait’s problem? Critics of the deal originally proposed always lacked a reaction from the Moreno camp. Now there’s evidence of profit sharing. Since the city has had nearly 50 years to actually development to site to have every plan go away, it is time to let Moreno have a shot at doing what the city is unable to do.
So if the Angels do well through late September in late into October on the diamond, will Anaheim residents who are Angels fans realize that the team will more than likely leave if Tait is re-elected and cast their votes for anybody but Tait? If the Angels go, the city is on the hook for demolishing the stadium (estimated between $15 and $30 million) and say goodbye to the millions of dollars the Angels give to local charities. And say goodbye to the political career of Tom Tait with it. Just ask those leaders in Baltimore and Cleveland how things went when the Colts and Browns left town.
Bud Selig is on his way to the West Coast to a farewell tour of sorts. I sure hope he brings Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred with him. Rob’s from my hometown which is about 40 miles from Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame. We went to high school together. I played high school basketball with his brother Lee (a great Tennis player) and Rob’s dad was my basketball coach on a junior high-level summer travel basketball team that played tournaments around New York State. Now I haven’t seen any of the Manfred family in years, but I can’t forget the core values of the family I knew. Rob Manfred is very much an owner’s baseball executive; Arte Moreno wasn’t one of the owners who initially cast a vote for Manfred but he eventually came around and gave Rob his vote. The Rob Manfred I knew will be the sort of person who will reach out to those “no” vote owners first to build a better relationship with them. At 55, Rob may be commissioner for 20-30 years. He’s a great choice.
And with a stadium issue facing Moreno, Manfred is in a position to help Moreno in two ways. Manfred, being an outstanding lawyer by profession, will be very active in either helping the Angels renew their stay in Anaheim or move quickly to get them a new stadium built somewhere else.