Angels owner Arte Moreno discusses stadium lease at spring training

Angels owner Arte Moreno discusses stadium lease at spring training
Angels owner Arte Moreno at a spring training baseball workout on Friday. (Morry Gash / AP)

The Angels and city of Anaheim have not progressed toward a new stadium lease after breaking off talks in September.

"We are nowhere," owner Arte Moreno said Friday, as the Angels held their first spring-training workout. "We've had zero conversations with them since a long time before September, and we have no planned conversations."

Moreno addressed a variety of topics during a 45-minute interview, including the team's ability to add an impact player before the July 31 trade deadline, its quiet — and failed — pursuit of free-agent pitcher James Shields, and enigmatic and oft-injured left fielder Josh Hamilton.

The Angels have a four-year window, from 2016-2019, to opt out of their lease on the 50-year-old stadium. If they don't, it extends through 2029.


In September 2013, the Anaheim City Council voted, 4-1, to approve the framework of a deal in which the Angels would pay an estimated $150 million to refurbish the infrastructure of the stadium. In exchange, the city would lease the parking lot to Moreno for $1 per year, enabling him to develop the land and use the proceeds to recoup renovation costs.

Mayor Tom Tait objected, saying the land was worth too much — $225 million, according to a commissioned appraisal — for the city to lease it for so little without sharing in the development proceeds.

At least one Anaheim City Council member, Kris Murray, thinks formal negotiations will be revived.

"We've been communicating with the team, we've done some outreach, and I do believe it was positive," Murray said. "I continue to believe and be optimistic that we'll get to a good place for team and city. We have some challenges with a very old stadium that has a need for structural upgrades."

The Angels have met with Tustin officials about building a new stadium on a former military base there, but that city also wants an investment return on any land provided to the Angels.

Asked whether he was considering the proposed Farmers Field site in Los Angeles that appears to be losing momentum in its bid for an NFL team, Moreno declined to comment other than to say, "It's really interesting, the whole landscape of the football thing."

He was asked whether the Angels were examining other sites. "We try to keep all of that to ourselves," Moreno said. "We're still looking at opportunities. We can mess around with the agreement until 2019. If we don't do anything, we're there until 2029. So there's no pressure to do anything."

The Angels, whose record last season was a major league-best 98-64 before they were swept in the first round of the playoffs, enter 2015 with a payroll of about $148 million. Moreno said he'd be comfortable pushing it to as high as $165 million, putting the Angels in play for a significant addition this season.

"If something jumped out at us and we needed to spend more, I wouldn't have any problem with that," Moreno said. "If something fits, we're economically in good shape to do those things."

The Angels thought Shields, who signed a four-year, $75-million deal with San Diego, would be a good fit — but not at four years. The Angels never made a formal offer.

"We sort of had a peek on Shields, even until the end there," Moreno said. "I like the pitcher a lot, but a three-year deal would have been ideal."

Moreno liked Hamilton enough to lure the 2010 American League most valuable player away from Texas with a five-year, $125-million deal before 2013, but Hamilton has been a bust, hitting .255 with 31 homers, 123 runs batted in and 266 strikeouts in 240 games over two seasons.

Asked to describe Hamilton's tenure with the Angels, Moreno said, "Interesting." His expectations for Hamilton this season? "I don't have any," he said, adding he never puts numerical expectations on players.

He said he only wishes them "good health and good luck."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.