The Orange Juice Blog’s publisher Vern Nelson took an LA Times article that the Angels had resumed talks with the City of Anaheim as an indication the team wasn’t moving. It’s clear he didn’t read the story.
From the LA Times article, these gems:
- The Angels have renewed talks with the city of Anaheim about an Angel Stadium renovation and lease extension. (Renovation means the team won’t have to pony up millions for “repairs” to an aging stadium that’s the fourth oldest in the major leagues if they reach agreement to stay).
- “Right now, we are in discussions with Anaheim to see if we can find a way to continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience in a city-owned aging stadium,” Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey said. Note the phrase “city-owned aging…”)
- In 2013, the Anaheim City Council approved the framework of a deal in which the Angels would have paid an estimated $150 million to refurbish Angel Stadium in exchange for a $1-per-year lease on part of the surrounding parking lot, providing team owner Arte Moreno with the opportunity to recoup his stadium renovation costs with profitable development of the surrounding land.
Tait immediately objected, suggesting the team and city share the development profits. The city also commissioned an appraisal that valued the land at $225 million when leased to a developer. We’ll note here that the development and any profits would come from Moreno assuming all of the risk in developing the site and making it profitable, with the city sharing in the profits (to what percentage was never released). If Tait wants the city to share in the development profits, it would make sense that the city assume half the cost for developing the site too.
- The Angels have not ruled out renewing a search outside Anaheim, or simply letting their current lease there play out. For now, however, the focus appears to be on a new deal with Anaheim. With neither the Raiders or the Chargers looking at moving to Carson in the immediately future, that football stadium site could easily become a baseball park site. Close to freeways, plenty of space for parking, and look what the state did to greenlight environment concerns over the Sacramento Kings new arena; they could happen in Carson too.
- The council last year retained Wylie Aitken, a high-profile Orange County attorney, as its lead negotiator in talks with the Angels, although city staff appears to be leading this round of discussions. Aitken has not invoiced the city for any work related to the Angels, according to city records obtained by the Los Angeles Times. He also did not return several calls from The Times. The city’s lead negotiator hasn’t done anything and city staff is leading the discussion.
- I also want to point out Tait’s children still own property given to them by Tait that, if the team should leave, would enrich the Tait family significantly. So what Tait says might be a fair deal for the people of Anaheim
Bill Shaikin is a solid reporter and, with Orange County roots, is one that likely wants the Angels to stay put.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Angels back at the table talking to Anaheim is great and positive news. But to suggest they aren’t going anywhere is naïve and not final by any means. It still looks like they are still seeking an alternative site and when negotiations resume, it’s entirely possible Arte Moreno may want a better deal — mainly a new stadium to stay in Anaheim. If Anaheim won’t work with the team, don’t be surprised if the team pulls up stakes and leaves. The Anaheim would join the ranks of the Washington Senators, Seattle Pilots, and the Montreal Expos of teams that have found new places to play (Texas, Milwaukee and DC).
Angels Stadium is not a world class venue for baseball. It lacks the charm of Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, but doesn’t come close to say Petco Park in San Diego or AT&T Park in San Francisco for comfort and amenities. Not that any of the geniuses at the OJ blog have attended a game there this decade. The team is having a rough go with injuries and bad breaks, but in baseball, that can turnaround in a single season.
If they city wants to stay in the stadium business, its possible a half-billion or more might be needed. Or, they can lease or sell city land to Moreno to let him build his own new Angels Stadium. Tait wants a fair deal for Anaheim; start looking at what the city would lose if the team moves. The Angels contribute millions to Anaheim charities that will go elsewhere. The surrounding businesses would suffer. Losing the Angels makes it less likely Anaheim might be considered for an NBA expansion franchise or relocation.
It’s not realistic to expect the Angels to renew a status quo deal.