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The Angels Have Opted Out Of Their Anaheim Stadium Lease. Here Are A Few Things To Know

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The Los Angeles Angels terminated their stadium lease with the city of Anaheim earlier this month, raising questions about what will happen to the Major League Baseball franchise and the 150 acres where the stadium sits. 

The team will remain in Anaheim through the 2019 season.

For the past several years, the Angels and the city have been trying to come up with a plan to pay for basic improvements to the 52-year-old, city-owned Angel Stadium.

Angel Stadium in Anaheim
Angel Stadium in Anaheim

Built in 1966, the stadium is the fourth-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball after Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.

The last time Angel Stadium received a facelift was in 1998. Angels owner Arte Moreno took control of the team in 2003, after purchasing the Angels from The Walt Disney Co.

“Angels Baseball has notified the city of Anaheim that we are exercising our right under the one-time opt-out period to terminate the stadium lease,” Angels President John Carpino said in a statement to Bisnow. “As we look to the future, we need the ability to continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience beyond what the original lease allows. It is important that we look at all our options and how we can best serve our fans now and in the future.”

Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said negotiations with the Angels are part of the business of a city having an MLB franchise.

“We look forward to many great years of Angels baseball in Anaheim,” Lyster said in a statement to Bisnow. “We don’t believe there is a better place for the team than in the heart of Orange County’s most exciting city. ... As fun as baseball is in Anaheim, this is a reminder that this is still a business. And we understand that the Angels need to preserve all options available. We welcome talking with the team about the future of baseball in Anaheim.”

With the Angels opting out, questions remain about what will happen to the Angels and the Platinum Triangle area of Anaheim.

Here are a few things to know:

Angel Stadium Anaheim
Angel Stadium of Anaheim

How important are the Angels baseball team and Angel Stadium to Anaheim?

Aside from the Disneyland Resort and the Honda Center, where the NHL's Ducks play, the Angels baseball team is one of the city’s main commercial anchors and tourist attractions. 

For the past 16 years, the Angels have annually brought in more than 3 million fans. Only the Angels and New York Yankees have achieved such high attendance since 2003.

The stadium also anchors the city’s growing Platinum Triangle area, an 820-acre site that is currently seeing a renaissance of multifamily, office and retail developments. There is about $1.5B in development being invested in the area.

When fully built-out in about 20 years, the Platinum Triangle — about 4 miles east of Disneyland Resort — will boast 28,000 residents, 19,000 apartments, 14M SF of office and 4.7M SF of commercial retail and hotels. 

Lennar’s 41-acre A-Town project, JPI’s Jefferson Stadium Park mixed-use development and LT Global’s LT Platinum Center are among the major projects around Angel Stadium.

The city envisions the Platinum Triangle as a place for tourists to visit and for residents as a live-work-play destination similar to many of the baseball stadiums in downtowns nationwide. 

Additionally, the city receives about $1M a year from a percentage of Angels ticket sales, parking and other non-baseball stadium events.

Why did the Angels opt out now?

In their agreement with the city, the Angels had a chance to opt out of their stadium lease in 2018 or remain until 2029. 

Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said it was either opt out now or 10 years from now. 

“There's no option in-between,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

What led to this point? 

The city council led by Mayor Tom Tait and the Angels have tried since 2013 to come up with an agreement for the Angels to remain long-term. 

Both sides are aware the aging stadium is in need of an estimated $150M to $200M in renovations — not for the building of suites or luxury enhancements, but for basic infrastructure such as plumbing, concrete, electrical wiring and air conditioning.

The city council proposed in 2013 to give Angels owner Moreno's commercial real estate company, Pacific Coast Investors, development rights for the surrounding parking lot around Angel Stadium — about 30 or so acres — for $1 per year through 2057. Ideally, Moreno would develop the site, and the revenues generated from the projects would fund the rehab of Angel Stadium or a new stadium.

But Tait nixed the proposal. Tait balked at the $1/year agreement, citing the land itself is worth $200M to $300M, and the city should have a share in the revenue generated by whatever developments arise from the site.

In 2016, the Angels and the city tried to negotiate a stadium lease agreement again but nothing materialized.

With Tait terming out this November, and several city council seats up for grabs in the coming election, the Angels said they plan to negotiate a new deal with the new members of the city council.

Where can the Angels go?

During this limbo with the city of Anaheim, the Angels flirted with relocating to nearby areas in Orange County.

Moreno had discussions about possibly moving the Angels to the city of Tustin, about 10 miles southeast of Anaheim.

Tustin offers about 400 acres of undeveloped land since the retiring of the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. But nothing ever materialized since the cost of a new ballpark could range from $500M to $1B.

The Angels also had discussions with FivePoint Communities about building a stadium within a 688-acre site in Great Park in Irvine.

Nothing ever came of the discussions.

What's next?

The Angels will explore their options and wait until the November election to resume talks with the city of Anaheim for a new stadium lease.

In November, the seven-member Anaheim City Council will have a new mayor and possibly three new city council members.

After the 2019 season, if a long-term agreement does not materialize, the Angels and the city could come up with a short-term agreement similar to what the NFL's Raiders had with the city of Oakland. Two years ago, the Raiders struck a deal to remain in Oakland for $3.5M a year until 2019. The Raiders and the city are currently negotiating another one-year deal for the 2019 season until the team relocates to Las Vegas in 2020.