Orange County: Troubled plan to sell Angel Stadium is officially dead

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS) — The difficult deal for Anaheim to sell Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno is officially dead after it decided not to contest a city council decision this week to overturn the proposal.

“Given that the City Council voted unanimously to terminate the stadium land contract, we believe that is the case [in] in the best interest of our fans, Angels Baseball and the community to accept the city’s cancellation,” Marie Garvey, a spokeswoman for Moreno’s company SRB Management, said in a statement Friday. “Now we will continue to focus on our fans and the baseball season.”

Still, SRB criticized what the company described as “misinformation” that caused the deal to fail and denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

“For nearly a decade, Angels Baseball has worked with the city to continue to provide a quality fan experience at Angel Stadium and provide certainty about the team’s future in Anaheim,” SRB management said in a statement. “During this process, much misinformation and untruths were expressed, and we want to make it clear that we negotiated in good faith with all elected officials and city employees and reached a fair agreement that was good for Anaheim and Angels Baseball.”

Anaheim Mayor Trevor O’Neil, who is acting mayor under Anaheim’s city charter, welcomed Moreno’s decision.

“We welcome the angels and thank them for their mutual understanding of what is required at this moment,” O’Neil said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s the right thing. But a long-term plan for the stadium grounds and baseball in Anaheim are still opportunities we want to explore. We will continue to work to get past this moment with an open door for a fresh start when the time is right.”

The council vote took place Tuesday, voiding a 2020 agreement to sell Angel Stadium and surrounding property to Moreno and his SRB Management LLC.

A day earlier, Harry Sidhu had resigned as the city’s mayor amid an investigation by the FBI alleging he had leaked inside information in hopes of making a sizeable campaign donation to the Angels and also cheated sales taxes on a helicopter he had bought .

According to media reports, on May 16 the city council received a notice of a federal investigation into Sidhu’s involvement in the sale and asked the city attorney general to notify the Angels of the decision to vacate the deal on Wednesday.

“The stadium proposal was evaluated on its merits and approved,” O’Neil said Tuesday in a statement released by the city council
end product to us, we cannot in good conscience continue.”

Moreno is said to first “review all our options” through the SRB management after the council’s decision. The sale agreement allowed SRB to seek up to $5 million plus legal costs if the city defaulted on its payments.

What costs Moreno would impose was unclear.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu is resigning amid the FBI’s corruption probe related to the sale of Angel Stadium

The council decision also ends previous negotiations for the sale of the stadium site which began in 2019 and resulted in agreements approved in September and October 2020.

The municipal stadium and 151 acres of land were to be sold for $320 million, partly in cash and partly in affordable housing and a park built on the stadium grounds.

The deal was the subject of updated sale and development agreements and reflected a now-on-hold settlement with California officials related to the Surplus Land Act, which was due to be presented to the City Council in June, the final step before the sale is completed.

The Angels have a lease to play at Angel Stadium through 2029, with an option for three three-year extensions through 2038.

Now that the Anaheim sale is dead, the idea of ​​a possible team move to Long Beach Wednesday quickly resurfaced. Long Beach officials approached the team in 2019 about the possibility of relocating the team to a stadium that would be built along that city’s waterfront next to the Long Beach Arena and Performing Arts Center.

“Downtown Long Beach’s waterfront has always been the perfect location for a major league sports stadium,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in an email to Long Beach Press-Telegram. “If any sports team is interested in engaging the city, we would welcome these discussions.”

The Long Beach City Administrator’s office issued a statement saying that if the Angels were interested in pursuing such an option, the city “will return to these discussions and seek direction from the City Council.”

Long Beach’s original proposal called for the stadium to be built on a 13-acre lot, with additional land set aside for commercial and residential development.

Some state lawmakers told the City News Service they were glad Anaheim halted stadium sales.

“Anaheim should never sell this property,” Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, told CNS. “If you do anything, rent, don’t sell.”

Selling the property cuts off a revenue stream, Correa said.

“You’re not Orange County, which was bankrupt in 1994, where you have to sell everything at distressed prices,” Correa said. “There’s no Anaheim. Instead of the Angels buying the stadium, Anaheim should buy the Angels.”

Correa, along with Rep. Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, and Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, have sent letters to the city calling for more accountability for the proposed sale.

Umberg told CNS he agreed with Correa’s proposal to buy the team from City – although there was no indication Moreno wanted to sell the franchise.

Copyright © 2022 City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Orange County: Troubled plan to sell Angel Stadium is officially dead

Laura Coffey

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