‘Time to play ball.’ Angels and Anaheim set to start stadium negotiations next week
The Angels told the city of Anaheim 13 months ago they wanted out. They now hope to stay in Anaheim, and they are about to tell the city exactly how they propose to do that.
The Angels are set to unveil their pitch to city officials Nov. 15, city manager Chris Zapata said Tuesday. That would leave 32 days before the final City Council meeting of the year for the sides to negotiate a deal that could reshape Angel Stadium and the surrounding area.
“Time to play ball,” Zapata said after Tuesday night’s council meeting.
The Angels face a Dec. 31 deadline to opt out of their stadium lease or remain bound to it through 2029. Although they have entertained overtures from Long Beach, team spokeswoman Marie Garvey said last week that the Angels are “100% focused on Anaheim.”
Said Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu: “We look forward to hearing from the team about their vision for the future.” The city has made clear its vision: a new or renovated stadium, with an entertainment district sprouting from the stadium parking lot, in a scenario one city official has called “L.A. Live on steroids.”
Sacramento’s Major League Soccer stadium model of reimbursing the team from a portion of revenue from developments might work for Anaheim and the Angels.
In January, three months after the Angels initially announced they would terminate their stadium lease, the City Council extended the lease and gave the team the new opt-out window to allow more time for negotiations. However, with no talks in the 10 months since then and barely more than a month left to reach an agreement, Councilman Jose Moreno said he wondered whether Sidhu and the Angels might already have secretly agreed on the framework of a deal.
“I hope I’m wrong,” Moreno said.
Garvey and Mike Lyster, the spokesman for the city of Anaheim, both said he was wrong.
“We have not sat down with the team yet or begun any negotiations,” Lyster said. “Any suggestion otherwise would be incorrect.”
Moreno said he was concerned about a secret deal because he has failed in repeated attempts to persuade his council colleagues to release the city’s land appraisal, and to provide for 30 days of public review of any deal before a council vote.
The Angels are prepared to move fast to get a free agent like pitcher Gerrit Cole. The question is: Will he and his agent Scott Boras let them?
He also said he believes the Angels already have been working on an agreement with building and construction trade unions, whose members would get jobs out of any deal and would be expected to lobby the council to approve it. Ernesto Medrano, the Orange County representative of the building and trades council, did not return multiple calls last week seeking comment.
“While the Angels have longstanding relationship with the trades, we have had no conversations with any of the trades in regards to a possible agreement with the city,” Garvey said.
The council majority appears strongly supportive of a new deal with the Angels, and the team and city could agree to negotiate beyond the new year if necessary.
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