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Anaheim Evaluates NFL Stadium Sites

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The mayor of Anaheim said Monday that city staff members have evaluated potential sites for a football stadium and hope to discuss them soon with San Diego Padre owner John Moores, who has approached the NFL about returning professional football to the city.

“I think Moores is serious about being an NFL owner, and I think Moores is serious about looking at Anaheim,” Mayor Tom Daly said.

While the NFL may wish to promote Southern California alternatives before Sept. 15, its self-imposed deadline to approve a stadium design and financing plan for a Los Angeles expansion team, Daly acknowledged many hurdles in preparing an Anaheim plan by then. City officials have yet to meet with Moores, Daly said.

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“It’s too soon to say if any of this can happen, especially with a Sept. 15 deadline,” Daly said.

If the NFL extends its deadline, or if another team wishes to move, Anaheim could become a more viable option. The city lost the Rams to St. Louis in 1995.

“Are we recruiting any existing teams? The answer is no,” Daly said. “That could change.”

The city has identified a stadium site on Douglass Road, near the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. However, city spokesman Bret Colson said, some of that land is privately owned and would need to be acquired by either the city or a stadium developer.

When Disney bought the Angels in 1996, the company agreed to permit construction of a football stadium in the parking lot surrounding Edison Field. However, the city also agreed to provide 12,500 on-site parking spaces for Angel games. With the proposed development of the Gotcha Glacier extreme sports facility and an adjacent office building, additional stadium construction would remove so many spaces from the lot that the city would risk violating the Disney agreement.

In addition, the City Council split 3-2 in approving a relatively modest $30 million contribution to the $118-million renovation of Edison Field. A new football stadium would probably cost twice as much. While the city might provide land, Daly said, it will not pay the construction bill. The City Council could discuss the situation at its meeting today.

“If we have a person who is truly serious about owning an NFL team and wants to finance a stadium in Anaheim and bring a team here, then I think there are many possibilities available,” Daly said.

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While it is unlikely Moores could complete plans for stadium design and construction in less than a month, he is an ideal owner for the NFL, which forbids corporate ownership but embraces business mavericks. Moores founded a Texas software company and parlayed his $1,000 investment into a personal fortune.

Moores, 55, rescued the Padres from the fire-sale management of Tom Werner, engineering an $85-million purchase of the team in 1994. He further endeared himself to San Diego fans by approving budget-busting acquisitions of key players that helped the Padres reach the World Series last season.

Irvine Mayor Christina Shea remains a vocal booster of an NFL site at the El Toro Marine base, although the federal government--not the city--currently controls the 440-acre parcel proposed for the stadium. NFL officials have visited the site, near the intersection of the 5 and 405 freeways, and offered encouragement.

“They have told us it would be a great site for a relocated team,” Shea said. “They wanted us to continue pursuing getting the land and dedicating it [for a stadium]. They said there could be two or three teams interested in playing here.”

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