Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno says he's serious about investing hundreds of millions into Angel Stadium and surrounding development, but the city's reluctance to commit has him talking new ballpark with other communities.
Moreno and the Angels have presented a plan where the team would fund $150 million in Angel Stadium improvements while receiving development rights to 155 acres of land next to the ballpark. The Angels would pay $1 for a 66-year lease for the land, which is seen as a potentially lucrative area that could serve both Angels fans as well as attendees of events at Honda Arena, home of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim City Council has already approved the proposal, but Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait is reluctant to pull the trigger on the plan, arguing that the city should receive more than $1 for the development rights, perhaps sharing in profits down the road. The area has been a target of development for the city, but other redevelopment plans have failed. From the Los Angeles Times:
"I think $1 a year is ridiculously undervalued from a taxpayer's point of view — that property is worth hundreds of millions of dollars," Tait said. "Of course we want the Angels to stay, but my responsibility is to the people of Anaheim and to get a fair return on their property."
Under current revenue-sharing formulas, the Angels have essentially paid a net of zero rent for 16 years, according to Tait.
"I think they have an incredibly good deal — there's no reason to leave," Tait said. "It's going to be hard for someone to build a stadium on 150 acres where three freeways come together in the best part of Southern California and not charge them any rent."
The city has commissioned a market study as to the worth of the Angel Stadium site: with easy freeway access and good infrastructure in place, it could in theory be an attractive target for a developer if the ballpark were gone. But we're talking LA suburbs here: there are lots of open sites in lots of cities available for development, especially for a developer like the Angels who can create their own demand.
Moreno's reps have met with at least one other city about a new ballpark and associated development. (We're not counting the chats Moreno and crew had with AEG about a potential downtown LA ballpark. Given that downtown LA is gentrifying rapidly and becoming a real destination, we're a little surprised that talk has not resurfaced, although it may have more to do with the scaled-back operations AEG than any desire on Moreno's part to be in the city.) Preliminary talks between the Angels and the city of Tustin, which sits southeast of Anaheim (closer to Santa Ana and Irvine), have centered on the potential redevelopment of the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station, which sits near three freeways (5, 405 and 55) and already has Metrolink service.
The Angel Stadium lease runs through 2029, but the team can opt out with 12 months notice to the city.
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