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Anaheim Approves Sale Of Angel Stadium Parcel

The Anaheim City Council has approved the sale of 153 acres of land that includes Angel Stadium to SRB Management, a company controlled by Angels owner Arte Moreno, for $325M.

Los Angeles Angels Senior Vice President Molly Jolly (right) addresses the Anaheim City Council during a council meeting Dec. 20 at the Anaheim City Hall in Anaheim.
Los Angeles Angels Senior Vice President Molly Jolly (right) addresses the Anaheim City Council during a council meeting Dec. 20 at the Anaheim City Hall in Anaheim

After a grueling and contentious eight and a half hours of public comment and discussion, the seven-person council led by Mayor Harry Sidhu voted 4-2 in favor of the agreement. One member of the council was not present.

This is the first step in a multiyear process to finalizing the land deal at 2000 East Gene Autry Way and 2200 East Katella Ave. Early next year, the city and SRB will meet to master plan the types of development around the stadium. 

"This is a win-win situation at the end of the day," Sidhu said to the weary leftover crowd after the vote. At its peak in the afternoon, the fire marshal stopped people from entering the 150 maximum room council chamber. About 50 more people sat in a nearby overflow room. 

Councilwoman Denise Barnes, who voted against the deal, said she felt the sale was rushed. Barnes requested postponing the vote and asked for a second appraisal.

“We need more time to conduct due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers who own Angel Stadium and the surrounding high-value real estate,” Barnes said.

The vote culminates a decade-long stalemate between the Angels owner and the city, and clears the way for Moreno to develop apartments, hotels and office buildings on the land around the stadium in the city’s growing Platinum Triangle

The Platinum Triangle is an 820-acre site that is anchored by Angel Stadium and the Anaheim Ducks’ home, the Honda Center. The area has seen more than $1.5B in commercial real estate developments in recent years. 

For most of the last decade, the Angels and the city have bickered over who is responsible for paying for the estimated $150M to $200M worth of necessary basic infrastructure improvements and maintenance the city-owned 53-year-old stadium needs.

The last time Angel Stadium received a facelift was in 1998 when The Walt Disney Co. owned the team. Moreno acquired the team from Disney in 2003.

Aerial photo of Angel Stadium in Anaheim
Aerial photo of Angel Stadium in Anaheim

Constructed in 1964 and opened in 1966, Angel Stadium is the fourth-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, behind Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fenway Park in Boston and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

At one point in 2013, a previous council proposed leasing the development rights to the surrounding parking lots to Moreno's commercial real estate company, Pacific Coast Investors, for $1 per year through 2057.

The idea was to allow Moreno to develop the site with revenues generated from the projects funding the maintenance of the stadium or the building of a new stadium.

That proposal was nixed. 

After neither side was willing to budge, the Angels exercised an opt-out on their longtime lease agreement with the city last year, and signed a one-year lease extension for the 2020 baseball season.

With time short, the Angels brought in Brooks Street, a real estate consultancy firm, to be part of their team to help prepare for negotiations with the city. The city tasked Norris Realty Advisors to prepare an appraisal that included the development of the site with and without the team and stadium.

The city of Long Beach attempted to lure the Angels with the building of a new ballpark on a 13-acre site on the city's waterfront. But Angels President John Carpino said the goal was to remain in Anaheim.

"In the nine years since we started this process, the one constant has been keeping the Angels in Anaheim," Carpino told the council.

Under the terms of the agreement, SRB Management, a business entity controlled by Moreno, will purchase the site that includes the stadium, its parking lots and The City National Grove of Anaheim entertainment venue. The team will also commit to remaining in Anaheim through at least 2050. 

A proposed development map of Angel Stadium prepared by the city of Anaheim's appraiser
A proposed development map of Angel Stadium prepared by the City of Anaheim's appraiser

Early next year, the city council and the team will come up with a development agreement that could lower the $325M sale price if SRB agrees to build "community benefit" projects, such as affordable housing, large parks and open space and agree to project labor agreements.

A third step, expected sometime around 2023 to 2025, will be an entitlement and city review process for any development.

“This plan provides certainty for the fans, community and achieves the city’s goal of receiving fair market value ... [and has] the potential of creating an economic anchor in the Platinum Triangle,” Carpino, the Angels president, told the council.

Several members of the community spoke against the sale. 

Paul Kott Realtors founder Paul Kott, who is also a 30-year season-ticket holder, said the $325M sale price was too low and pointed out that with the development credits could drive it even lower. 

This stadium belongs to the Anaheim taxpayers, Kott said. The city's appraiser had appraised the land without a baseball stadium for as much as $570M. 

"This was not an open sale. There wasn't a competitive bid," Kott said. "It was appraised for one buyer and one purpose."

Resident Wes Jones said the council should go back to the negotiation table and force the Angels owner to rename the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim team back to just Anaheim Angels.

Councilman Jose Moreno tried to have the city's negotiation team demand the inclusion of "Anaheim" to the Angels baseball name as part of the sale agreement.

But Carpino, who was asked directly by the mayor if that could be a negotiating point, said no, twice. 

Moreno chastised the mayor for bringing the agenda to the table on a Friday before Christmas and Hanukkah.

"Why couldn't this wait until the end of January?" Moreno said.

Sidhu said he had promised significant steps before the end of the year and underscored that the Angels were also facing a Dec. 31 deadline on whether to sign a new lease agreement. 

Other residents were supportive of the deal. Some believe privatizing the stadium and land around it could continue the growth momentum happening in the Platinum Triangle. 

According to the city with the current developments in the Platinum Triangle, when the area is fully built-out in the next couple of decades, it could have as many as 28,000 residents, 19,000 apartments, 14M SF of office and 4.7M SF of commercial retail and hotels. 

The Angels' study, conducted by RCLCO Real Estate Advisors, found that SRB's development around the stadium in a 15-year period could lead to 18,000 construction jobs, 12,000 indirect jobs in the local economy and at full build-out 15,000 permanent jobs in retail/office/hotel/property management.

RCLCO said a combination of developments of hotels, apartments, condos and office and retail could provide more than $20M in annual taxes to the city.

Councilman Trevor O'Neill said the Angels need to hit certain milestones before everything gets finalized. 

"This proposal is setting a land price above the fair market value, gets us out of the stadium business, unlocks the economic opportunity that will generate tens of millions of dollars a year in new revenue, and as a bonus, keep the Angels in Anaheim for at least 30 years," O'Neill said. "This is just the first step in transforming the area into a world-class sports and entertainment destination for all of Orange County."