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New Angel Stadium land appraisal could affect lease negotiations

The land upon which Angel Stadium sits is worth $325 million if the ballpark is demolished and $225 million if the Angels stay and the surrounding land is leased to a developer, according to an appraisal commissioned by the city of Anaheim that was released Friday.

The appraisal could help the Angels and the city agree on how much money Anaheim should get in a new stadium lease deal with the team. Yet the appraisal also could harden the stances of Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who considers the proposed deal a taxpayer giveaway, and the Angels, who have considered walking away from the idea of developing any land surrounding Angel Stadium and simply focusing on whether to renovate the ballpark or build a new one elsewhere.

The highest value for the land, according to the appraisal, would come if the Angels move out and the city could sell the entire 153-acre site. If the Angels stay, the appraisal assumes the 133 acres surrounding the stadium would be developed but does not assume the team would be the developer. Tait and other city officials say they want the Angels to stay.

The Angels' current lease requires the city to provide 12,500 surface parking spaces. The appraised values assume an agreement to convert at least some of those spaces to parking structures. No such agreement is in place.

In a letter to the city last week, Angels President John Carpino said he was concerned because an appraisal that did not consider the Angels’ parking rights and capital contribution to Angel Stadium could produce an unreasonably high value and “lead to an unworkable situation.” The appraisal expressly omits any consideration of the costs of stadium renovation.

The Anaheim City Council last September approved the framework of a deal in which the Angels would pay for the estimated $150 million to keep the city-owned stadium operational for the long term, in exchange for the right to develop the surrounding parking lots, with a lease of $1 per year. Tait objected immediately, in part because the city had not arranged for an appraisal of the land.

The development rights would give Angels owner Arte Moreno a chance to make his money back on stadium renovations, with the likelihood he might spend closer to $500 million on stadium upgrades, development costs, and the parking structures that would be necessary to accommodate any significant development.

The city would take no financial risk, but Tait is concerned that Moreno might make a development windfall on city-owned land, leased at $1 per year but now appraised at more than $200 million. Once Moreno recoups his investment on stadium renovations, Tait wants the city to share in the development revenue.

“I’m simply looking for a decent return on the property,” he said Thursday, before the appraisal was released.

He said he considered a 50-50 split to be appropriate but said he would be willing to let the Angels keep the majority of the money if they abandoned the Los Angeles name, a non-starter for Moreno. If the L.A. name stays, Tait said “that pushes it back toward a purely economic decision.”

[Update, 3:25 p.m.: Tait clarified Friday that, while he does believe in a 50-50 split, the Los Angeles name is a separate issue for him, and he is not in favor of letting the Angels keep a majority of money under any circumstance.]

Tait has one of the five City Council votes. The other four members of the council approved the tentative deal last September; none has announced an intention to reconsider.

The Angels say Anaheim remains their first choice, but they have held exploratory talks regarding the feasibility of building a new ballpark in Tustin and Irvine.

The appraisal assumes the costs of parking structures and any other development infrastructure would be covered through bonds repaid by the developer. The appraisal does not estimate those costs but factors them into its “prospective estimate of market value.”

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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