At an 8-plus hour long special council meeting yesterday, the Anaheim City Council voted 4-2 to approve a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) under which SRB Management, a development partnership controlled by Angels owner Arte Moreno, would buy Angel Stadium and the surrounding property for $325 million. As part of the sale, the Angels committed to splaying in Anaheim for at least another 30 years, through 2050.
According to the city-commissioned appraisal, the value of the site with a stadium and 12,500 parking spaces is $300-$320 million.
Supporting the agreement were Mayor Harry Sidhu, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Faessel and Councilmembers Lucille Kring and Trevor O’Neill. Opposing the agreement to keep the Angels in Anaheim were Councilmembers Jose F. Moreno and Denise Barnes.
Councilmember Jordan Brandman was in the hospital emergency room and unable to attend.
More Jobs, More Tax Revenue – No Taxpayer Subsidies
Mayor Harry Sidhu noted the special council meeting was the culmination of a series of meetings and negotiations between the city and the Angels.
“For everyone who has said keep the Angels in Anaheim, this proposal will do just that,” said Sidhu “For those who wanted to see a deal at fair-market price, this deal is just that. For those who wanted something better than what we have now, this proposal promises to be just that.”
“Sale of the stadium site would mean money to invest in our neighborhoods,” Sidhu continued. “Potential development as part of the Platinum Triangle could mean revenue for city services for years to come.”
“There are no city subsidies. There is no taxpayer funding of the stadium,” the mayor pointed out. “Anaheim would get out of the stadium business and still benefit from what a stadium brings.”
The council vote opens the door to the next stage: beginning in January, the city and the Angels will start negotiations on a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) that will govern the development of the 153-acre stadium site. It is anticipated the Arte Moreno will develop the site along the lines of LA Live!, with a mix of entertainment, retail, commercial, office and residential development.
SRB Management will make a series of multi-million payments, ultimately totaling $70 million, into an escrow account as milestones are met, as illustrated in this graphic:
According to a city-commissioned economic impact study, development of the site will generate 18,000 construction jobs, 15,000 permanent jobs earning $1 billion annually in wages, $3.5 billion in construction, $1.2 billion in city tax revenues through 2050.
The agreement was supported by a broad coalition of residents, businesses and construction labor groups, who came to the council meeting to urge a “yes” vote by the council.
Moreno, Barnes Attempt To Sabotage Deal
Councilmembers Jose F. Moreno and Denise Barnes have been consistent critics of the Angels and the negotiations, and have worked diligently to create suspicion in the minds of the public.
Earlier in the year, they failed to persuade their council colleagues to appoint them to the negotiating team. Last night, they tried to re-negotiate the deal from the dais with a series of unrealistic and politically motivated requests and amendments.
These de facto sabotage attempts were unsurprising. Appearing on a left-wing Internet program earlier in the week, Councilman Jose F. Moreno vowed to do delay or stop the vote – “So, we’re gonna make whatever we can – amendments, push, continuance, try to postpone it” – and was true to his word.
Moreno In Wonderland
At one point, Moreno offered a “Dr. Evil” amendment, demanding the Angels pay $1.5 billion: $539,000,000 for the site plus $1 billion for the “marketing value” of the “Anaheim Angels” team name used from 1997 to 2005. And he wanted the $1.5 billion paid in one lump sum by June 2020.
It was an absurd demand. Everyone – including Moreno – knew it. No real estate deal is structured that way. Moreno based the $539 million on what the land would be worth if the Angels left – even though Moreno claimed he wanted them to stay. The “marketing value” of the Anaheim Angels name only has meaning if the city were actually willing to spend $1 billion on marketing the name “Anaheim” – which the city has neither the will nor capacity to do.
Moreno also wanted to amend the PSA to forbid any taxpayer subsidies. When the mayor and the staff pointed out that the PSA already explicitly prohibited any subsidies and that his suggestion was legally meaningless, Moreno demanded a vote on his amendment anyway.
This was all political gamesmanship by Moreno. At was obvious he already knew amendments were doomed when – after the council approved the purchase and sale agreement – Moreno read from a prepared statement criticizing the sale.
Politics infuses everything Moreno does as a councilman. His goal wasn’t to get secure a good deal for Anaheim – Mayor Sidhu and the negotiating team had already accomplished that – but to manufacture a political narrative he will use to try and capture a left-wing council majority in the November 2020 election.
O’Neil: Moreno, Barnes Trying To Obstruct A “Win For The City”
Councilman Trevor O’Neil aptly summarized last night’s events:
“This proposal is setting a land price above the appraised value, it gets us out of the stadium business, unlocks the economic opportunity that’s tied up in the land that will bring tens of millions a year in new revenue – and as a bonus we get to keep the Angels in Anaheim for at least another 30 years,” said O’Neil.
“This is just the first step in transforming the area into a world-class sports and entertainment destination for all of Orange County,” continued O’Neil. “And the new revenue that’s derived from it will go a long way towards enhancing our public safety, improving our parks and neighborhoods, and helping to pay our unfunded pension liability.”
O’Neil then zeroed in on the antics of Moreno, Barnes and their followers:
“Now, in a deal of this magnitude, we expect criticism, but most of that criticism tonight has been refuted, and what remains will be worked out in the development agreement that will follow in the coming months. Regardless, critics remain – but not because this is a bad deal. Some favor high-density residential development. Some just don’t want to believe the facts behind the economics. Some are political opponents who simply want to obstruct this council from achieving a win for the city.
“And some are just Dodgers fans.”