Group reiterates claim that decision to sell Angel Stadium property was improper

Angels owner Arte Moreno attends a game.
Angels owner Arte Moreno
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Sale price for the Angel Stadium property: $320 million. Planning expenses incurred by Angels owner Arte Moreno and his development company in the 10 months preceding a legal challenge to the sale: not even $1 million.

That is reason enough to discount the assertion by Moreno’s company that the sale should go forward even if the city of Anaheim broke government transparency laws, the citizens’ group suing to stop the deal argued in a court filing late Monday night.

The group reiterated its claim that the decision to sell the property was improperly decided behind closed doors, with “a pretense of public participation” and “sham public hearings” to ratify the decision. The group also alleged the city’s assertion that its negotiating team consisted of a varying cast of city staffers and consultants was “a fabrication intended to mislead this court,” citing a city press release announcing a negotiating team of the mayor, the city manager, and the city attorney.


A hearing was scheduled for next Monday, at which the group was going to ask that the sale be nullified. On Tuesday, the hearing was postponed until March 2. In a filing last week, Moreno’s company argued that its third-party reliance on the deal should allow it to stand even if the city violated the law.

Anaheim asked the state housing agency to rescind declaring that the Angel Stadium land sale violated law. The agency said the city’s response “doesn’t change anything.”

Feb. 4, 2022

The citizens’ group alleged that, by reporting expenses dating back seven months before the deal, Moreno’s company was not a third party but “a participant to the secret negotiations.” The group also said Moreno’s company had not been harmed because the deal has not closed and the ability to walk away from it remains, and that expenses of 0.3% of the sale price are “insignificant” compared with the harm inflicted on the public by the allegedly secret negotiations.

The group also slammed the city for claiming that, by testifying against Anaheim, a City Council member and former city manager had “brazenly violated” and “flagrantly disregarded” restrictions against disclosure of closed-session discussions. To demand that public officials be forbidden from disclosing wrongdoing behind closed doors, the group argued, “is an affront to justice and should not be entertained by this court.”

The lawsuit is one of two challenges to the sale. The state housing agency has declared the city in violation of an affordable housing law, with the possibility that the state could levy a $96-million fine or file suit to stop the sale.

In the next month, the city faces two challenges to the viability of the Angel Stadium land sale.

Jan. 13, 2022

Under the deal, Moreno would build a neighborhood on the 150-acre site, surrounding the ballpark with homes, hotels, offices, shops, restaurants and parks on what are now parking lots.

The city has maintained it complied with the law. In an op-ed in the Orange County Register last week, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu claimed “a small few opposed to a deal are doing whatever they can to stop it.”


In a statement issued more than six hours before the citizens’ group made its filing Monday, city spokesman Mike Lyster said: “We have always held this is a meritless lawsuit meant to undermine an open, public process for a stadium site sale that is widely supported by our community. Nothing has changed, and we stand by our process.”