With their hopes dashed for a new ballpark in Tustin, the Angels have renewed talks with the city of Anaheim about an Angel Stadium renovation and lease extension.
The developer of the proposed Tustin site said his firm worked extensively in recent months on a ballpark project, but could not structure a deal that made economic sense for the development company, for Tustin and for the Angels.
“My guess is, they are going to stay in Anaheim,” said Dene Oliver, chief executive officer of San Diego-based Oliver McMillan.
The Angels’ current lease extends through 2029, although the team can opt out no later than 2019. Angel Stadium opened in 1966, and the only older major league ballparks still in use are Boston’s Fenway Park (1912), Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914) and Dodger Stadium (1962).
“Right now, we are in discussions with Anaheim to see if we can find a way to continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience in a city-owned aging stadium,” Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey said.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said the City Council has not yet been briefed on the talks. He said he would like the city to strike a deal with the Angels.
In 2013, the Anaheim City Council approved the framework of a deal in which the Angels would have paid an estimated $150 million to refurbish Angel Stadium in exchange for a $1-per-year lease on part of the surrounding parking lot, providing team owner Arte Moreno with the opportunity to recoup his stadium renovation costs with profitable development of the surrounding land.
Tait immediately objected, suggesting the team and city share the development profits. The city also commissioned an appraisal that valued the land at $225 million when leased to a developer.
The Angels ended negotiations with Anaheim in 2014. They explored options for new ballparks in Los Angeles, Carson and Irvine, but prioritized Tustin because of its proximity to the current stadium and fan base.
In 2015, Tustin reached agreement with Oliver McMillan to develop the southwest portion of an old Marine Corps base — about eight miles southeast of Anaheim — and directed the firm to work with the Angels to see how a ballpark might fit into the 123-acre site.
“Moving to Tustin would require a new stadium,” Garvey said, “and at this time, it is too much of a hurdle for all of the parties involved.”
The two sides are believed to have focused on a stadium that would have seated about 37,000 and cost about $700 million. Tustin officials had said they would not provide taxpayer funding for stadium construction.
“At this point, there’s not a path forward that’s economically viable for anyone,” Oliver said.
The Angels have not ruled out renewing a search outside Anaheim, or simply letting their current lease there play out. For now, however, the focus appears to be on a new deal with Anaheim.
The Anaheim City Council expands from five to seven members after the November election, a possible impetus for a deal before then. Of the five current members of the council, three voted in favor of that 2013 deal framework.
The council last year retained Wylie Aitken, a high-profile Orange County attorney, as its lead negotiator in talks with the Angels, although city staff appears to be leading this round of discussions. Aitken has not invoiced the city for any work related to the Angels, according to city records obtained by the Los Angeles Times. He also did not return several calls from The Times.