The Angels have bound themselves to the city of Anaheim longer than they have bound themselves to Mike Trout.
For more than half a century, the Angels have played in a stadium surrounded by acres of parking lots. For the first time, the Angels will have the chance to turn those parking lots into an attraction of their own.
The Angels and the city agreed Wednesday on a deal under which a company affiliated with Angels owner Arte Moreno would buy Angel Stadium and the surrounding property for $325 million. The city would not contribute to the cost of either renovating the stadium or building a new one, and the Angels would decide whether to upgrade or replace the current stadium.
Under the deal, the Angels are committed to playing in Anaheim through 2050, with options that could keep them there through 2065. The Angels were faced with a Dec. 31 deadline to opt out of their stadium lease or remain bound to it through 2029.
Trout, widely considered the best player in baseball, is committed to the Angels through 2030. The Angels last year signed him to a new contract worth $426.5 million, a record for an athlete in any North American team sport.
The Anaheim City Council is expected to approve the deal on Dec. 20. The Angels had opted out of their stadium lease last year, and Mayor Harry Sidhu made a new deal his priority.
“We appreciate the mayor’s leadership in working to keep the Angels here in Anaheim, which has been our home for over 50 years,” Moreno said. “Today is the first step in enabling us to invest in our future by building a winning team and delivering a high-quality fan experience.”
The Angels have hired HKS Architects, which has advised the Texas Rangers on their new ballpark and the Dodgers on their stadium renovations, to help envision options for redoing or replacing Angel Stadium.
The agreement does not commit the Angels to any particular development on the 153-acre site.
The deal anticipates the city and team reaching a separate development agreement next year, including the possibility of entertainment, shops, restaurants, homes, and hotels around the ballpark. The city said it would push for the inclusion of parks and affordable housing in the project and would rebate part of the purchase price to the Angels to facilitate those community benefits. The city did not say how it might do that or whether it would contribute to infrastructure costs for the development.
The city released the deal points but not details of the agreement. The city must do so in advance of the Dec. 20 vote.
Angel Stadium, which opened in 1966, is the fourth-oldest ballpark in the major leagues. Boston’s Fenway Park dates to 1912, Chicago’s Wrigley Field to 1914, and Dodger Stadium to 1962.
Dodger Stadium is owned by the team, and ownership has invested more than $300 million into stadium renovations since 2012.
Angel Stadium is owned by the city of Anaheim, and the two parties have debated for years over how to renovate the stadium. The city also has debated how to develop the surrounding parking lots, but none of the celebrated proposals — an NFL stadium, a Western-themed village with a rodeo arena, and an indoor surfing and skiing complex — came to pass.
In 1996, the Walt Disney Co. bought the Angels and paid $117 million to return what was then called Anaheim Stadium from a multipurpose facility — the stadium had been expanded to 65,000 seats to accommodate the Rams — to a comfortable 45,000-seat ballpark. The city contributed $20 million, confident it would make all those millions back and more through a parking lot development called Sportstown.
“Sportstown is a slam dunk,” then-City Manager Jim Ruth told The Times in 1997.
The city hired a development company. The developer failed to secure tenants and quit. The site remained vacant, and the city generated no property or sales taxes from what it considered prime real estate.
In 2013, Anaheim declined to pay the estimated $150 million for what both sides agreed were needed infrastructure upgrades. The city asked Moreno to pick up the bill, and in return offered him the right to develop the parking lots and use the revenue to recoup his expenses.
The deal collapsed after Tom Tait, then the mayor of Anaheim, said the Angels should pay more than the proposed $1 per year to lease the lots and should share development revenue with the city. The Angels negotiated for a new ballpark in nearby Tustin, but Moreno declined to pay the entire cost.
In 2018, two months before Tait was forced from office because of term limits, the Angels exercised their right to opt out of their Angel Stadium lease. That triggered a new negotiation, led by the city’s new mayor, Sidhu.
In the months between the Angels opting out and the inauguration of Sidhu, the city agreed to a new lease with the Ducks, securing the NHL team in Anaheim through 2048 and granting the team the right to develop the parking lots surrounding the Honda Center.
City officials made clear they envisioned a vibrant urban village on both sides of the Orange Freeway, with a destination for playing, shopping, working and living anchored by Angel Stadium, Honda Center and the adjacent train station. The working term used by a city executive: L.A. Live on steroids.
In 2014, the city commissioned an appraisal that valued the Angel Stadium property from $225 million to $325 million. The city got another appraisal this year.
In September, the appraiser reported a range of values from $225 million to $470 million if the Angels stayed, in part depending on how many parking spaces would be required and how many parking structures might be needed to replace land used for development. If the team left and the stadium were demolished, the land was valued at $375 million to $475 million.
On Tuesday, the day before the deal was announced, the appraiser reported a final range of values from $300 million to $320 million, based on “the results of the changes from the negotiating process” between the city and the team. The appraiser said the final deal, with the Angels buying the entire property rather than leasing it, had not been one of the scenarios the city initially asked him to value.
The appraiser noted that the value could be affected in part by competing development at the Honda Center, and the “distinct probability” that the Ducks could complete their development before the Angels start theirs.
The Ducks are likely to unveil “a large-scale sports/entertainment oriented project that would include multi-family residential uses in future years ... consistent with the theme and design and appeal of the Irvine Spectrum,” according to the appraisal report. The Ducks have not revealed their plans publicly.
The Angels were born as the Los Angeles Angels in 1961, and Moreno reclaimed that name for them in 2005. They played their inaugural season at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles and four seasons at Dodger Stadium, and their search for a home they could call their own led them to Long Beach and Anaheim.
Long Beach wanted its name on the team. Anaheim just wanted the team.
The Angels moved to Anaheim, playing as the California Angels under founding owner Gene Autry and the Anaheim Angels under Disney.
When Moreno opted out of the Angel Stadium lease last year, Long Beach again pursued the team, this time with the vision of a billion-dollar waterfront ballpark. For the second time, the Angels have picked Anaheim over Long Beach.
They will remain the Los Angeles Angels.