[Editor’s Note: this op-ed was originally published on December 15, 2019 in the OC Register.]
Anaheim-Angels Stadium Deal A Win For Taxpayers
by Carolyn Cavecche
I have a confession to make right from the start.
I am not an Angels fan. The Cavecche household bleeds Dodger Blue.
Oh, we attend Angel games now and then. My grandmother even had session tickets back in the 1960’s and 70’s. But for years any major interest in the team has been because a former Dodger Catcher was their manager.
The entire Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim debacle just made me roll my eyes and ignited my Orange County pride. Really, did anyone believe hordes of Angelenos were going to come into Orange County to watch a baseball game instead of going to Chavez Ravine?
So for years I have been able to watch the debate in Anaheim on what to do with the stadium with clear eyes.
The deal needed to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Anaheim. After years of reading about and following Anaheim’s attempts at trying to make a deal to keep the Angels here, I wondered why they were even in the stadium business to begin with.
A study by Georgia State University’s Center for Sport and Urban Policy showed that from 2006-2018 54 ballparks, arenas, and stadiums in North America received $11 billion in public funding. I have been holding my breath for years wondering if Anaheim taxpayers would be included in that list.So many cities are ponying up tax dollars, this Big A deal will stand out as a victory for the residents of Anaheim. There is finally a deal on the table that makes sense and gets the taxpayers of Anaheim out of the stadium business.
What will be before the Anaheim City Council next week is a $325 million offer for the stadium and 133.4 acres of parking lot land for a total of 153 acres.
Appraisal of the stadium area showed the market value between $300 million to $320 million and would allow development of entertainment uses, hotels, office space, retail, and apartments. The price negotiated is just above the highest valuation. A higher valuation could be obtained if the city of Anaheim wanted to allow less parking and greater development as well as tearing the stadium down.
But I am not thinking the residents of Anaheim are going to agree to not only tear the Big A down but also allow for a higher density build in that area. The city can still ask for community benefits including park space and affordable housing before the deal is finalized. Savings on not having to make yearly stadium improvement payments offsets any loss in rent revenue.
With this deal, the Angels would continue to play in Anaheim for at least 30 years, something that I know is important to many in Orange County.
It will also keep the stadium area as an entertainment centerpiece in the Platinum Triangle along with the Honda Center.
The vision of the Platinum Triangle Mater Plan has always been to be an entertainment, hotel, housing, and business center for not only Anaheim, but also all of Orange County. Think San Diego’s Petco Park.
More importantly, there would be no city funding of a new stadium or stadium improvements. This would fall on the team owners.
The Orange County Taxpayers Association is pleased to finally be able to support a stadium plan.
It will keep the Angels team here in Orange County for at least 3 decades with options beyond that but removes any obligation for a new stadium or stadium improvements away from the taxpayers of Anaheim.
We congratulate the Anaheim City Council for hanging tough and waiting to make a deal that actually support the taxpayers of Anaheim.
Carolyn Cavecche is CEO and president of the Orange County Taxpayers Association.