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Stadium talks turn angry between Angels, Anaheim

Laws and LegislationAngel Stadium of AnaheimCalifornia Public Records Act
Relations between Angels, Anaheim have grown strained.
The Angels can opt out of their stadium lease through 2019.
In September, the Anaheim City Council approved the framework of a deal with the Angels.

Although the Angels and the city of Anaheim agreed on the framework of a stadium deal seven months ago, the relations between the two sides have grown so strained that each side is accusing the other of trying to make significant changes to the terms of the deal.

The accusations, contained in various letters, come as the city prepares to release its long-awaited appraisal of the Angel Stadium site. The Angels are opposed to how the city conducted the appraisal and are considering whether to terminate discussion of developing the land adjacent to the stadium.

In September, the Anaheim City Council approved the framework of a deal in which the Angels would agree to stay in Angel Stadium for the long term and would assume an estimated $130 million to $150 million in improvement costs for the stadium infrastructure, in exchange for the Angels getting the right to develop the surrounding parking lots. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has campaigned against those terms ever since, and Angels owner Arte Moreno said in February that talks were "at a stalemate."

In a March 21 letter to the city, Angels attorney Alex Winsberg complained that a draft agreement presented by the city two days earlier "fundamentally conflicts with the basic intent of the deal ... an exchange of development rights for the obligation to renovate and maintain the stadium."

In another letter, dated April 24 and posted on the Voice of OC website, Angels President John Carpino said the team was "shocked" by the draft agreement that he said "removed any inducement for the Angels to undertake the substantial economic risk and responsibility negotiated into the framework of the deal that was initially proposed by the City of Anaheim."

In a March 31 letter to the Angels, City Attorney Michael Houston reminded the team that the deal framework -- called a memorandum of understanding (MOU) -- was subject to change upon further negotiations.

"It bears mentioning that the Angels ... are currently proposing terms that differ from the MOUs," Houston wrote. He added: "Temperance, diligence and trust are the basis for our negotiations."

The March 21 and March 31 letters were released by the city in response to a California Public Records Act request. The specific deal terms were redacted.

On Friday, the city is set to release an appraisal that values the 155-acre site with and without a baseball stadium. The Angels are concerned that the appraisal might not take into account the team's parking rights, which could require the team or any other developer to spend in the range of $100 million on parking structures.

The Angels initially wanted to discuss stadium renovations with the city, without a development deal attached. They have not ruled out refocusing the talks on the stadium itself.

The Angels can opt out of their stadium lease through 2019, although owner Arte Moreno likely would have to pay for a new ballpark wherever he might move in Southern California. The Angels have flirted with Tustin and kept an eye on Los Angeles.

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