In the hours after the city of Anaheim released an appraisal that valued the Angel Stadium site at $225 million with the Angels there and $325 million with the ballpark demolished, the mayor and mayor pro tem offered contrasting opinions on how negotiations with the team should proceed.
The Anaheim City Council last September approved the framework of a deal in which the Angels would agree to stay in Anaheim and invest about $150 million to maintain the stadium for the long term. In exchange, the Angels would lease the surrounding parking lots for $1 per year with the right to develop them.
“The appraisal states the obvious,” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said Friday. “The property is worth hundreds of millions of dollars more than $1 per year.”
Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray, one of the City Council members who voted to approve the framework, agreed that the land had value but said the city should not opt for the “short-term economic gain” of a sale at maximum value over a long-term relationship with the Angels.
“We have the framework in front of us that keeps the team in Anaheim, renovates an old stadium, and doesn't impact our taxpayers,” she said. “It’s time to get a deal done that's real, with real benefits.”
Murray became the first City Council member to call for finalizing an agreement since Tait started campaigning against the proposed deal seven months ago.
The Angels say they want to stay in Anaheim, but they have held exploratory talks about the feasibility of building a new ballpark in Tustin or Irvine. They could opt out of their Angel Stadium lease as soon as 2016.
“There are acres of land all around the stadium sitting fallow,” Murray said. “Why would we drive out the Angels in the hope, a very slim hope, that the exact same thing won't happen to this property? I'm not interested in adding another empty lot in Anaheim.”
Tait said he does not believe the Angels are going anywhere. If the city and the team do not reach agreement on a new lease, and if the Angels decide against opting out, the current lease would extend through 2029. The Angels would probably have to pay to build a new ballpark somewhere else.
“I believe the Angels will stay whether there’s a deal or not,” Tait said.
The proposed deal would cost the city nothing. However, because of the possibility of windfall profits from land development, Tait said he would not vote for the deal unless the Angels agree to significant profit-sharing.
Under the current lease, the Angels already are responsible for stadium maintenance, so he said he is not swayed by the Angels' promise to pay for stadium renovations in a new deal.
“If I’m going to vote to change a deal, it’s got to be better for us,” Tait said. “I’m not going to change a deal to make it worse.”
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.
However, the Angels issued this statement after the city released the appraisal Friday: “We are fine with the results and feel it is important for our fans and the public to have this information."