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OC Register: Anaheim leaders propose year extension to Angels’ stadium lease to give time for negotiations


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Anaheim’s new mayor and City Council are starting a fresh round of negotiations with Angels baseball, hoping to reach an agreement before the team’s lease for the city-owned stadium expires this fall.

A proposal the City Council is expected to consider Tuesday, Jan. 15, would extend the Angel Stadium lease through the end of 2020 so the two sides have time to hash out a new deal.

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    The Big A in the parking lot of Angel Stadium in Anaheim. (Register file photo)

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    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani prepares to warm up before their game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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    The Big A at Angel Stadium of Anaheim sits on the east side of the parking lot next to the 57 Freeway. The giant A, complete with light-up halo, was the Angel’s scoreboard when the stadium opened in 1966. The $1 million, 230 feet tall scoreboard was the largest built at the time. The Big A was moved to it’s present location in 1980. (File photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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After more than 50 years playing in the stadium that bears their name, the Angels in October exercised an opt-out clause; the team would otherwise have been locked into the lease for another decade.

Since 2013, negotiations between the city and Angels management have broken down several times, with the last official meeting in 2016. Past talks have revolved around development rights to parking lots around the stadium and how to pay for the estimated $130 million to $150 million in maintenance and upgrades the stadium will need over the next 20 years.

Mayor Harry Sidhu, who took office in December, said in a statement that he met with Angels owner Arte Moreno last week.

“From that meeting, it is clear the team’s priority is to stay in Anaheim, if we can work out a deal that benefits our residents, the city and the team. We need a plan to make that happen, and we need time to make that happen,” Sidhu said.

While neither side has commented in recent months on specifics of what they hope a new lease might include, observers say a deal signed in November with Honda Center management is a likely guidepost for the direction Angels talks could take.

Under that deal, Anaheim Arena Management by Henry Samueli will buy city-owned parking lots around the arena at their appraised value and be able to develop them. Other key points included making profit-sharing with the city kick in sooner and having arena officials take over management of the ARTIC transit station. The deal also keeps the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center for at least 25 years.

Disagreement over development rights around Angel Stadium helped blow up negotiations in 2014.

The previous year, the City Council approved some discussion starting points – a final deal could have looked quite different – that included allowing Angels owner Arte Moreno’s company to lease and develop stadium parking lots for 66 years, potentially for as little as $1 a year.

Other talking points were whether to give the team full control of the team name (meaning it could drop “Anaheim”), to raise the amount at which the city gets a share of stadium ticket sales, and to nixing the city’s annual $600,000 stadium maintenance obligation. The Ducks agreement keeps the city at the front of the name.

The suggested $1 a year drew fire from some, with then-mayor Tom Tait calling the proposal “outrageous” and bashing it as a “flawed deal” in an op-ed.

In 2014, the Angels briefly talked with Tustin and reportedly reached out to Irvine about relocating, but neither city offered to fund a new stadium, a considerable expense that a consultant in 2014 pegged in the hundreds of millions.

This week, new councilmen Jordan Brandman and Trevor O’Neil said the Honda Center agreement would be a good starting point for Angels talks, with Brandman adding, “I think we can get a lot more than Tom Tait got out of the Ducks deal.”

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