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:
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.