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OC Register: Angels agree to stay in Anaheim through 2050, stadium to be sold for $325 million

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Anaheim’s hometown baseball team would continue playing in Angel Stadium for another 30 years, and the city would sell the stadium and 133 acres around it to a business partnership including team owner Arte Moreno for about $325 million, under the proposed outline of a deal that Anaheim City Council members were briefed on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Negotiating teams for the city and the Angels reached agreement on key deal points after meeting just three times in November, although both sides spent months preparing for talks.

The sale proposed in the three-part deal is a significant departure from the status quo: the city built the stadium in 1966 and has at times faced criticism over what some say are generous lease terms for a reportedly profitable baseball team and its billionaire owner.

“For every fan who told us to keep the Angels, this proposal would do exactly that,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement. “This proposal reflects what we’ve heard from the community – keep the Angels, a fair land price, money for neighborhoods, ongoing revenue, affordable housing, parks and jobs for Anaheim.”

Any deal was expected to hinge on the sale or lease and development of property around the stadium, and the land still likely will be developed with apartments and condos, restaurants, hotels and entertainment businesses – but the city now will make money from increases in property and sales taxes rather than getting a direct cut of stadium or development revenue.

The draft agreement also is expected to provide other specified community benefits, but those details are still being worked out, city spokesman Mike Lyster said.

The council is expected to vote on the land sale portion of the deal at a special meeting Dec. 20, with a development agreement and community benefit provisions to follow in the spring. The purchaser, SRB Management LLC (which includes Moreno and other undisclosed partners), would need city approval of development plans for the property – those are expected to emerge in the next few years.

Angels officials are still considering whether to renovate the stadium or build a new one, team spokeswoman Marie Garvey said. They’ve hired HKS Architects – which designed Minneapolis’ recently opened NFL stadium and is working on a new ballpark for the Texas Rangers – to explore their options.

“We appreciate the mayor’s leadership in working to keep the Angels here in Anaheim, which has been our home for over 50 years,” Moreno said in a statement. “Today is the first step in enabling us to invest in our future by building a winning team and delivering a high-quality fan experience.”

The team’s existing lease was drafted in 1996, when the Walt Disney Co. owned the Angels, and it lasts through 2029, with optional extensions through 2038. Earlier attempts to negotiate a new deal between 2013 and 2016 failed.

In fall 2018, the Angels announced they’d be opting out of the stadium lease this year. That sent city leaders scrambling to arrange fresh talks with the goal of keeping the team. But after the newly elected Sidhu got the council in January to reinstate the old lease and extend the opt-out window, there was little visible progress for months.

While they’re still working out some details of a deal that will last decades, city information describes provisions including:

  • Commitment of the team to play in Anaheim through 2050, with optional extensions adding up to 15 more years.
  • Sale of 153 acres, including parking lots and the 45,483-seat stadium, to SRB Management for $325 million.
  • Community benefits including affordable housing, parkland in addition to what’s already required of new developments, and a local hire agreement for construction; the housing and parks would be given a dollar value that would be subtracted from the land’s selling price.
  • As the stadium’s owner, Moreno’s partnership would be required to provide parking at the current level of 12,500 spaces, which will likely require building a costly parking garage as development moves forward; the team also would be solely responsible for either making millions in stadium repairs or building a new venue.
  • Other impacts to the city’s bottom line, such as canceling its annual stadium maintenance fund payment of about $700,000; Anaheim would still be on the hook to pay about $523,000 in debt left over from an ill-fated addition of exhibit space in the late 1980s.

The news of a deal puts to rest the suggestion the team might move to Long Beach, where city leaders months ago had sought to woo the Angels to a proposed waterfront stadium. It also eases some pressure both sides faced from a Dec. 31 deadline, by which the Angels would have to give the city a year’s notice if they planned to quit the current lease early.

City leaders have touted the ancillary revenue, such as spending at restaurants and shops, that come from having a resident Major League Baseball team that reportedly sells more than 3 million tickets a season. But with debt payments and maintenance obligations eating into any direct revenue, Anaheim has made little from the stadium, netting only about $626,000 in total over the last two decades.

City leaders have yet to discuss how the millions from selling the stadium would be spent, but an ongoing effort led by a nonprofit connected to the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce has been surveying residents on the needs in their neighborhoods.

 

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