Long Beach ready to pitch for Angels

Coastal city revives pursuit of team after sale of stadium in Anaheim dissolves amid corruption scandal

Angels' Arte Moreno with Elephant Lot (Brandon Richardson, Getty) Long Beach
Angels' Arte Moreno with Elephant Lot (Brandon Richardson, Getty)

Anaheim just hit a foul ball on its Angel Stadium deal, and Long Beach is once again hoping to catch the big-league baseball team that plays there.

After a federal corruption investigation led the City of Anaheim to scrub a $320-million deal to sell its stadium to Angels owner Arte Moreno, public officials in Long Beach declared they would seek to reopen talks to develop a home field for the team, the Long Beach Post reported.

In early 2019, Long Beach initiated conversations with the Angels about relocating the team to a large undeveloped parcel near the Long Beach Convention Center known as the “Elephant Lot.”

“If the Angels are interested in continuing those initial discussions, Long Beach would re-engage in those discussions and seek direction from the City Council,” according to a statement issued by seaside city this week.

Long Beach has tried for years to develop the 13-acre Elephant Lot, one of the biggest undeveloped parcels along the California coast

It recently updated language in its agreements to host the annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to include a clause that the city can pursue development of the land, which could again include a baseball stadium.

An existing lease requires the Angels to stay in Anaheim through 2029, with a team option to extend through 2038. Long Beach has already committed the Elephant Lot as a venue for the Summer Olympic Games in 2028.

The ante by Long Beach comes after a unanimous decision this week by the Anaheim City Council to “immediately void” the $320-million deal to sell Angel Stadium to a business partnership led by Angels owner Arte Moreno.

Moreno’s SRB Management had planned to develop more than 5000 homes, offices, shops, restaurants and hotels on the 153-acre site, while maintaining the aging stadium. The deal breaker followed an outcry by residents and elected officials about the stadium corruption scandal involving former Mayor Harry Sidhu.

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The mayor stepped down after a federal agent accused him of providing confidential information about the stadium sale in hopes of receiving $1 million in campaign aid. He has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Marie Garvey, a spokesperson for the Angels, told the Los Angeles Times that the team was disappointed in Anaheim’s vote and that the team is “currently exploring all of our options.”

The statement from Long Beach noted that no other discussions have taken place between Long Beach and the Angels team since December 2019, when the two parties struck the deal for a sale and redevelopment of the stadium site.

The statement appears to be the first from Long Beach about reopening of talks with the Angels. When asked, numerous Long Beach council members said they hadn’t heard about any revived discussions.

It’s unclear whether Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is currently running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, approved the statement from the city.

Jeremy Harris, president of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said it would back negotiations for a Long Beach Angels. Developing the Elephant Lot has been a priority for the Chamber as it works to revive business lost during the pandemic.

“A vacant parking lot certainly doesn’t help with that,” Harris said. “A hotel, baseball stadium or some other use would lend to that.”

[Long Beach Post] – Dana Bartholomew

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