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Anaheim Makes Moves Toward Stadium Improvements : Planning: Accounting firm will study cost of renovating or building new facility. Land-use consultant will be hired.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Faced with the probability of losing the Los Angeles Rams as a tenant, the City Council on Tuesday took its first step toward revitalizing Anaheim Stadium and its surrounding area.

The council, which hopes to lure a new professional football team to town if the Rams leave, voted unanimously to hire an accounting firm to analyze the cost of renovating the stadium or building a new one.

The council also voted to begin a search for a consultant to develop an updated land-use strategy for the entire stadium area, which officials said needs to be done regardless of whether the Rams stay in the city.

By hiring a consultant, the city plans to explore land uses that would complement both The Pond and the stadium.

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They also want to explore transit possibilities, such as the widening of the Santa Ana Freeway, that would make the area more accessible and are looking for ways to link the stadium and arena with areas such as Disneyland, according to a city staff report.

High-rise offices have been scheduled for development around the stadium, but because of the glut of office space in Orange County, city officials are examining other land uses such as retail.

These vacant and underutilized properties, which are publicly or privately owned, offer significant development possibilities, the report states.

The accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche was hired for $120,000 to study the feasibility of renovating the stadium or building a new one to meet the needs of the Rams and the California Angels.

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A new or renovated stadium is believed to be a key element in any effort to keep the Rams in Orange County, some city officials contend.

The Rams are being courted by several cities, including Baltimore and St. Louis.

The city’s plans have met with positive reaction from members of the Save the Rams committee, a group of 45 local politicians and business people working to keep the team in Orange County.

The Rams have no timeline for making public their plans, but will not announce anything before football season begins in September, officials said.

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In a related action Tuesday, the council unanimously approved an earthquake recovery plan that is also aimed at refurbishing the stadium or possibly building a new one.

The recovery plan is necessary to help finance stadium repairs caused by the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake, city officials said.

During the earthquake, the stadium’s 17-ton scoreboard fell and caused an estimated $10 million in damage. Because of that damage, the city is allowed to create a redevelopment project without finding that the site is blighted, city officials said.

The council’s action makes the 150 acres of stadium land a redevelopment area. With this designation, the city will be able to use any increase in tax revenue for development on stadium land.

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