Hysteria Over Angels Negotiations Begins

As predictably as night follows day, an outbreak of hysteria has followed news of a proposed 1-year extension of the Angels’ stadium lease to facilitate negotiations to keep them in Anaheim (which is something even critics claim to want). The common thread is a freak-out over a “deal” that doesn’t exist.

Giving a north county report to his Chicano Latino Immigrant Democratic Club of Orange County, District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno raised the alarm over the non-existent deal:

Said Moreno:

“On our agenda in Anaheim is that the Anaheim…or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, are seeking an extension of their lease because they want a better deal for themselves. And while we love our Angels, we don’t want it to be where the public is funding a private entity. So, the stadium is publicly owned, so we’re gonna keep fighting that fight.”

What “fight” does Moreno propose he and his band of left-wing activists jeep fighting? The only thing on the agenda is a one-year extension of the current lease terms. Furthermore, no one is suggesting Anaheim taxpayers “fund” the Angels.

The Angels want to negotiate a deal that is good for them just as surely as the city wants to strike a bargain that is good for Anaheim. That’s the point: a win-win, a mutually beneficial agreement. Yet, Moreno can’t help but cast suspicion on the desire of any private enterprise to reached a beneficial agreement.

One lesson of the past several years is that demonizing the party with whom you’re negotiating tends to undermine the negotiations. A previous council majority in 2013 approved a non-binding negotiating framework in 2013; the key word being “non-binding” – as in a final agreement could have looked much different. We’ll never know because Mayor Tom Tait embarked on a strident PR campaign unfairly painting his council colleagues as reckless and Angels owner Arte Moreno as seeking the benefit at the expense of taxpayers. Tait only succeeded in poisoning the well of good will and preventing any progress on hammering out a mutually beneficial deal to keep the team in Anaheim.

Thanks to the election of a new mayor and a new council majority, there’s an opportunity to put aside the built-up animosity, start fresh and negotiate an agreement with the Angels that is beneficial to the city.

And let’s be clear: no deal has been reached and placed before the council – although the public could be forgiven for thinking otherwise after reading this misleading Voice of OC headline:

Anaheim Stadium Deal Goes Easy on Angels, Hard on Taxpayers

The problem with this headline is it is wrong: there is no Anaheim Stadium deal.

VOC editor Norbert Santana writes:

“…that there’s a rush this Tuesday for city council members to approve a new, short-term lease for a team…”

Wrong. This is not a “new” lease. It is an extension of the old – i.e. current – lease. “New” implies the extension involves different terms. It does not.

Santana continues:

“The first chapter of every lease negotiation between the City of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels always seems to involve local taxpayers immediately giving up a valuable negotiation point.

In exchange for goodwill…”

It does? The city is in a strong negotiation position even with the extension, with a more realistic timeline for working something out. And since when is “goodwill” inimical to a successful negotiation? Does the Voice of OC prefer negotiations be based on bad will? That’s been the situation for the past few years – during which negotiations have gone nowhere.

And this:

“Now under the current stadium deal, it’s my understanding that the Angels get virtually free rent – as city rent revenue from the team (which is tied to ticket sales) equals yearly stadium maintenance costs.”

Also untrue. The Angles do not get free rent. What is true is that over years the city has generally broken even from direct revenues from the Angels – but the presence of the team inarguably has catalyzed tax-generating economic activity in its environs.

“Now, without a lease, a market-based rent for a billion dollar asset like Angels Stadium for a billion dollar entity like a Major League baseball team could be worth as much as $10 million a year.

That’s a heck of a chit to walk into a negotiation with.

Yet Sidhu and potentially a majority of city council members are proposing this Tuesday night to just give it all away.

For free.”

Really? Is there some mystery MLB team poised to replace the Angels at the stadium that no one else knows about?  Furthermore, there’s no proposal on Tuesday’s council agenda to “just give it all away for free.” Unless there’s a secret give-away document written on the staff report in invisible ink.

“The stadium is perfectly sound and retrofitted by taxpayers to accommodate both a baseball and a football team (to supposedly keep the Rams, which didn’t work out).”

No, it isn’t. The stadium needs $130-$150 million (if not more) in repairs.  It used to be a dual football-baseball stadium – 23,000 seats were added in 1980 to accommodate the Los Angeles Rams. After the Rams left and Disney bought the Angels, those seats were removed and it once again became a baseball-only stadium.  No NFL team would re-locate to Angel Stadium in its current condition.

Santana quotes former Mayor Tom Tait:

“The stadium parking lot is Anaheim ‘s most valuable real estate asset. It’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars and its owned by the people of Anaheim, who are represented at the bargaining table by the mayor and council members. The people deserve fair market value lease, regardless if it is for one year, or 30 years.”

Of course Anaheim residents deserve a good deal, and rightly expect their mayor and council representatives to secure such an agreement on their behalf. Mayor Tait had several years to secure such a deal, and was unable to do so. It would seem unfairly painting the Angels’ owner as a pirate intent on raiding the public treasury wasn’t a productive negotiating strategy.

Perhaps a better approach is engaging the Angels in good faith, with goodwill, grounded in determination to reach an agreement that is good deal for Anaheim taxpayers and the city’s economy – and is also a good deal for Angels.

14 comments

  1. Sergio E Gonzalez

    “Ignorance breeds fear” Councilman Moreno and company thrive on keeping their constituents in the dark with lies and fear. All this new council has done is give both parties some breathing room to assess what is beneficial to all parties involved. Angels Stadium is the 4th oldest venue in MLB. It needs repairs. The tenant is interested in sharing the cost with the owner. A win for everyone. There is only one entity that Jose Moreno is concerned in benefiting.

  2. David Michael Klawe

    Look, if ANY football team moves to Angel Stadium, the most likely team is UCLA.

    The two NFL teams, the Rams and Chargers are tied to a 20 year deal at the new stadium in Inglewood. No way the Chargers can break the deal that was forced on the Rams by the NFL. And no way will the NFL approve a third team.

    USC now controls the Coliseum, which is spending a lot of their own money in fixing up the Coliseum. Plus it is next to its campus.

    That leaves UCLA, which plays at the Rose Bowl, an older stadium with well known parking/traffic issues.

    But the only way UCLA would come here is if the Angels leave, and UCLA gets a new stadium with lots of luxury boxes and club seats, and control of advertising, etc. Anaheim wouldn’t get much.

    So thinking about getting a Football Team, well, it won’t happen!

    If the Angels walk away, you might as well just tear down the stadium, and place the land up for sale. Disney might want the land for a third theme park, or parking and then convert some of their current land into a new Theme Park and/or hotel use. But with the ALWI, doubt they would bid on iy=t. Heck, they could have bought GardenWalk recently and passed.

    So the land would become housing, shops, restaurants and business use. How much will that bring the city?

    So lets start from scratch, use the recent Honda Center Deal as a starting point, let the city staff do what they do best, get a deal that is good for the city, and works for the Angels.

    We are pass the Tait regime, lets move forward. Pretty sure Mayor Sidhu has the votes for the 14 month extension.

    And when a new agreement is reached, it will be made public, and then we can see if it is a good deal for the city, and then move forward.

    But time to take the first step to a fresh start.

    • I can’t stop laughing. UCLA is University of California, Los Angeles. College…repeat College level football not professional like the Rams…Chargers and etc. No logical sense in having students attend school in LA and then bus down to Anaheim just to play. No logic in that idea. Knowledge does you some good when you take advantage of it

      • David Michael Klawe

        Currently Kevin, UCLA, located on the Westside of LA and busses its students to Pasadena to play football. The drive, based on Google is 26 miles in heavy traffic through the core of town, but the better traffic option is 37 miles avoiding much of the core.

        The drive from UCLA to Angel Stadium is 44 miles. But ARTIC is located next to Angel Stadium, so walking distance after taking the train.

        Yes, you can take the LA Metro Gold Line to Pasadena, but need to board a bus to get to the Rose Bowl.

        That said, the point is Both NFL teams, both MLS teams and USC are locked into long term Stadium deals. Only UCLA is available to TRY and move, Is that likely, no. But it is the only option besides keeping the Angels as a sports team that would drive enough attendance to make it worthwhile.

        So yes, knowledge is good, and you need to look at the info from multiple angles.

  3. So much for fiscal responsibility. Sidhu is just a puppet

    • David Michael Klawe

      What do you mean in regards to fiscal responsibility. All I see is a short period of time to start fresh, with all options on the table.

      If anyone is a puppet, it is Dr. Moreno under Ada Briceno’s strings…

  4. Or vice versa Ada under Moreno’s strings.

  5. Jose rabble rouser Moreno does not represent the people of Anaheim. He must not think we are very smart. We must be smart and examine facts before we follow or form opinions.

    We need to examine Jose Moreno and look at his intentions.

    Harry Sidhu is a businessman who has to date been fair and swift to act. Keep up the good work council majority!

  6. What I don’t get in the Voice editorial is how the City’s attorney Wilie Aitken can be publicly critical of his client. That seems like malpractice. But I guess since his daughter lost he can get away with that. Someone should complain.

  7. David Michael Klawe

    FYI, the lease extension as presented in the Agenda was approved by the council on a 5-2 vote, with Dr. Moreno and Denise Barnes voting Nay. The City Manager spoke up in favor of having more time to negotiate. Sounds likes he has already started to plan on a new team and a fresh start, after other important items like the Homeless Shelters, The Budget and the Ducks lease are more firmly in progress.

  8. The Angels have been looking for alternative sites for several years and found nothing. The NFL spent 20 years trying to get a City or County in Southern Cal to fund them a stadium and found nothing. Inglewood
    provided zero public assistance to the Rams and Chargers. Despite the “horrible conditions” at Angel stadium last year the Angels had the second highest attendance in the American League! Only the New York Yankees had more attendance and they went to the playoffs! Anaheim is in the driver’s seat in these negotiations. The Angels already dissed us by dropping the City name from the team. Give them hell Harry and get a good deal for Anaheim, not the “Los Angeles” Angels

  9. David Michael Klawe

    Look, the name is being used due to the fact for Media rights and advertising, Los Angeles is more inclusive and brings in more revenue. And not just for the team, but the League too.

    The Chargers play in Carson now, and will be moving to the City of Inglewood with the Rams, both calling themselves the LA Rams/Chargers

    The LA Galaxy also play at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

    UCLA plays in Pasadena.

    The 49ers play in Santa Clara, not San Francisco.

    Heck, both the New York Giants and Jets play in another state, New Jersey.

    And many more examples can be listed.

    Surprised that Angel Stadium of Anaheim hasn’t been renamed for a business, such as the Kaiser Permenete Ballpark of California. Heck, looking at the Angels lineup, they can use all the medical assistance they can get.

    As City Manager Chris Zapata asked the council last night… What is your priority? The name of the team, or Financial Benefits. For me, that is an easy one. Call me whatever you want, just don’t call me late for dinner.

  10. STOP MAKING SENSE DMK!

    Note to Wes Jones: Stop Making Sense was a song/music video produced by the alternative band Talking Heads in the 1980’s, it is not a reference to Ken Kesey, Upton Sinclair or even Hunter Thompson……

    LOAD BRAIN/FIRE TOUNGE. Not the other way around.

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