Is Arte Moreno bluffing, or would he really move the Angels out of Anaheim?
That has emerged as a pivotal question as the team and city try to negotiate a deal that would keep the Angels where they are. Moreno, the Angels’ owner, met last month with officials in Tustin about a possible new ballpark there, and said talks with Anaheim officials were “at a stalemate.”
Dan Barrett, a sports industry consultant advising the city, told the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday night that a new ballpark could cost $600 million to $700 million. After the meeting, Mayor Tom Tait expressed skepticism that Moreno could strike his best financial deal by abandoning Angel Stadium.
“I think he has an incredible deal in Anaheim,” Tait said, “a beautiful stadium where three freeways come together, and a 150-acre parking lot, for nominal rent. I don’t think he can find anything like that. Wherever else he goes, he’s going to have to pay for a new stadium.”
In addition to Tustin, Barrett said the Angels could consider moving to Irvine, Industry or -- in the absence of an agreement between entertainment giant AEG and the NFL -- the proposed Farmers Field site in downtown Los Angeles.
Tait suggested that Moreno might need close to $1 billion to get a new ballpark up and running, including the costs of construction and land acquisition. Barrett called that number too high, but noted that Moreno might take on development partners and that a host city might donate land and cover infrastructure costs, even without paying a penny toward stadium construction.
“If I were advising [Moreno], it wouldn’t be a billion-dollar investment,” Barrett said.
Barrett also said Moreno could make more money in a new ballpark.
“The revenue-generating potential of new stadiums ... is substantially higher than in the older generation of stadiums,” Barrett said.
Angel Stadium opened in 1966 and is the fourth-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, behind Boston’s Fenway Park, Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium. Renovations have been completed or are planned for those three ballparks.
Angel Stadium unveiled its most recent renovations in 1998.
The framework of the current proposal under discussion in Anaheim involves Moreno paying $150 million to upgrade the infrastructure of the city-owned stadium. In return, the city would rent him the surrounding parking lots for $1 per year and grant him development rights on that land.
The Angels can opt out of their stadium lease between 2016 and 2019.