Stadium Deal Critics: Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Opponents of the agreement to keep the Angels in Anaheim and sell the stadium site at fair market value to Arte Moreno for jobs- and revenue-creating development are resorting to increasingly frayed arguments.

Unicorn Valuations From Unnamed “Experts”

Councilman Jose F. Moreno and former Mayor Tom Tait continues claiming the stadium site is worth “hundreds of millions ” more than the $320 million that SRB Management is paying for it (in cash and developer-funded community benefits).

Based on what evidence?

Moreno, Tait and Denise Barnes, in a September 28 op-ed, say unnamed “Anaheim real estate experts” have “studied” the issue.

The reality is that Tait, during his tenure as mayor, had two appraisals of the stadium site done – the first in 2014 and the second ordered just before Tait left office and completed in December 2019. That appraisal pegged the stadium site’s value at $300-320 million with a stadium and 12,500 paring spaces, and a maximum of $450 million without a stadium – i.e. if the Angels left Anaheim.

In other words, Tait and Moreno are disregarding the expert appraisal they vote to commission in favor of a number conjured by anonymous “real estate experts.”

Critics, Heal Thyselves

They compound their dishonesty by refusing to tell the public their vastly inflated figures are premised on the Angels leaving Anaheim. They are trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

Remember, Tom Tait was mayor for eight years. He knew it was time to negotiate a new lease to keep the Angels in Anaheim. He had years to negotiate one. And he failed to do so because he employed a terrible strategy that totally alienated the team owner.

Tait was free to seek other buyers for the stadium site. If it is as valuable as Tait and Moreno say, why weren’t they out looking for buyers?

And why doesn’t the media – especially the Voice of OC – ever challenge Tait and Moreno and ask them obvious questions like these?

Tait still complains there has been too little opportunity for the public the weigh in, pointing to the council vote on the original purchase-and-sale agreement in December 2019. That particular criticism takes some chutzpah: Tait negotiated the Ducks deal out of public view and sprung it on the council days before Thanksgiving -giving the public little time to examine the terms.  In contrast, the proposal to sell the stadium to SRB Management has been debated and hashed out repeatedly in various public venues and mediums for almost a year.

Congressman Lou Correa submitted a letter today opposing the agreement, and calling for an independent appraisal of the stadium site.

News flash for Rep. Correa: that’s already been done. He can read it here.

New Agreement Infinitely Better Than The Current Lease

Assemblyman Tom Daly, who served as Anaheim Mayor from 1994 to 2002, has piled on to these criticisms of the Angels agreement.  It’s important to note this new agreement replaces the current stadium lease with the team – which everyone agrees has served the city poorly.

And who was mayor when that lease was negotiated and approved? Tom Daly.

That lease negotiation is also why the team is no longer the Anaheim Angels.  During those negotiations with Disney (which was buying the team), the city proposed language requiring Anaheim have a primary place in the team name. Disney red-lined out that language. Then-Mayor Daly didn’t push back or fight for stricter language, and city council approved the deal.

When Arte Moreno changed the team’s name, it was that lease language that allowed it. Restoring the “Anaheim Angels” name is a key message point for Jose Moreno and Tom Tait – although they ever explain what they would give in exchange (negotiation consists of give-and-take, after all). They are happy to have Daly’s support for their criticisms while letting him off the hook for a stadium lease – and name change – they routinely pan.

Here’s the bottom line: Harry Sidhu and other members of the council majority campaigned on keeping the Angels in Anaheim and the voters elected them to office. They pledged to get fair market value and no taxpayer subsidies.

And they have delivered – in spades.

Under this agreement:

  • The Angels will stay in Anaheim until at least 2050.
  • Team owner Arte Moreno is paying fair market value for the property – as determined by the appraisal commissioned by Tait and Jose Moreno.
  • Renovating the 54-year old stadium or building a new one will be the sole financial responsibility of Arte Moreno – no taxpayer subsidies.
  • Development of the site will generate tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in new tax revenue and billions in positive economic impact.
  • One of Jose Moreno’s top priorities will met by building 770 affordable housing units – most of which will be targeted to low- and very low-income residents.
  • SRB Management will pay for the design, construction and maintenance of a 7-acre signature park – on top of the 5-acres of parkland already included in the agreement. Good luck assembling 7-acres for a public park anywhere else in Anaheim – let alone getting a private party to pay for it.

And the opponents of the deal? One helped negotiate the current lease – which served the city poorly and resulted in the team becoming the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Another wasted years attacking Arte Moreno instead of trying to hammer out a win-win agreement. And current ringmaster of the anti-Angels deal circus is so focused on politics that he is bashing an agreement that represents the biggest step forward in years toward his goal of increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing.

For all their certainty they could get a better deal, it amazing how little they secured when in a position to do so.

One comment

  1. And yet the angels aren’t in the playoffs. Hopefully they will be as successful as the Chicago Cubs. Bad lease deals lead to LAA of Anaheim. Big deal. The team stays. If the virus ever ends. And the City is done with the team. Best wishes to Arte and his plans. Maybe they will happen faster than the Platinum Triangle. Look no schools, grocery stores just apartments and a beer place.

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