Frustrated Angels end talks with Anaheim on stadium lease

Could the Angels leave Anaheim? There's a stalemate between the city and the team

The Angels on Friday ended negotiations with the city of Anaheim over a new Angel Stadium lease, frustrated by the inability to finalize a deal more than a year after there was a framework for an agreement.

The Angels have held extensive discussions with the city of Tustin about a possible new ballpark there. The Tustin City Council has held at least nine closed sessions to discuss the matter and is scheduled to have another Tuesday.

Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said the team would continue to look at "all of our options." Tustin City Manager Jeffrey Parker said the city and Angels were "just in the talking stage."

Anaheim officials invited the Angels to return to the bargaining table.

"We stand ready to continue the discussions," interim City Manager Paul Emery said. "We believe the Angels will not find a better location, better city partners, and most of all, better fans than here in Anaheim."

Parker said Tustin would not tap the city's general fund to build a stadium for the Angels. It is unlikely that any city in Southern California would use taxpayer money to put up a ballpark for the team.

"We can afford to build a new stadium," Angels owner Arte Moreno said.

In 2011, Fox Sports agreed to pay the Angels close to $3 billion for long-term television rights, and grant them an ownership stake in Fox Sports West. The Angels could leverage that cash and/or that ownership stake to help pay for a new ballpark. Moreno told The Times that he makes money on the Angels and carries no debt on the team.

Spokeswoman Garvey said the Angels were walking away from one particular deal, not necessarily from Anaheim.

"It's been over a year," Moreno said. "We've gone backward. We haven't accomplished anything."

On Sept. 4, 2013, the Anaheim City Council approved a deal framework in which the Angels would pay an estimated $150 million to refurbish Angel Stadium in exchange for a $1-per-year lease on the parking lot, providing Moreno with the opportunity to recoup his stadium renovation costs with profitable development of the surrounding land.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait immediately objected, suggesting the team and city share the development profits. The city also commissioned an appraisal that valued the land at $225 million when leased to a developer.

When the city also directed the appraiser to value the land without a stadium — that is, with the Angels leaving and the ballpark demolished — and to determine how much it might cost Moreno to build a ballpark elsewhere, the Angels walked away from the negotiating table, claiming the city might not be committed to keeping the team even as all five City Council members declared they were.

Tait did not respond to a request for comment Friday. City Councilwoman Lucille Kring, who is running against Tait for mayor in the November election, said:

"Mayor Tait seems bent on driving the Angels out in order to demolish the stadium and make a quick buck on more generic development. I wonder if the residents of Brooklyn are glad that they have high-density apartments instead of Ebbets Field and the Dodgers."

The Angels can opt out of their stadium lease as soon as 2016 and as late as 2019. If they do not opt out, the current lease would extend through 2029.

Moreno said the concept of the Angels developing the land in exchange for paying for stadium renovations had been introduced by the city, in talks with city negotiators over what he said were the last "four and a half years."

The proposed Tustin site would be about eight miles southeast of Anaheim, on land formerly used as a Marine Corps base, with access to Interstate 5, the 55 Freeway and a Metrolink station. The Angels also have acknowledged talks about a site next to the Great Park in Irvine.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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