Angels owner seeks $5M to cover costs on nixed stadium deal

Pending with city under federal investigation over would-be $320M sale

Angels' Arte Moreno with Angels Stadium
Angels' Arte Moreno with Angels Stadium (Getty, iStock)

A management company led by Angels baseball owner Arte Moreno wants $5 million to cover the costs of the nixed Angel Stadium deal.

An attorney for Moreno’s SRB Management notified the City of Anaheim of plans to file a claim to recover title and inspection costs, consulting and legal fees and other expenses related to the failed $320 million stadium sale, the Orange County Register reported.

The sale agreement the Anaheim City Council voided last month included a provision allowing the buyer to recover costs up to $5 million, plus attorney fees, if the city were to default.

The city’s “repudiation” of the sale “constitutes a default” as described in the agreement, said Allen Abshez, an attorney for SRB Management.

A statement from Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster notes the city had already agreed to give back $50 million in escrow fees, while SRB said it wouldn’t sue the city to force completion of the deal. He said other legal issues “remained for future discussions.”

Lyster said the city may be entitled to recover part of the more than $2 million it spent on consultants and lawyers to craft the deal and navigate various legal challenges. But that right stems from the same – potentially invalid – agreement SRB is citing.

Lyster said the City Council will decide, likely in a closed-door session, how to respond to the claim.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The City Council voted to sell Angel Stadium in December 2019 and approved the deal with SRB in September 2020. But it hit a snag before the city could close escrow.

In December, state housing officials said the city had violated an affordable housing law, which the city vigorously denies.

When the dispute appeared to be settled through a legal agreement brokered by the state Attorney General’s office, a corruption scandal broke. Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was under federal investigation for allegedly passing confidential information to Angels Baseball officials in hope of soliciting $1 million for his reelection campaign.

Sidhu, who resigned last month, has not been charged with any crime. Paul S. Meyer, his attorney, said Sidhu did not leak secret information and that a “fair and thorough investigation” would clear him.

Court documents connected to the Sidhu probe note that the investigating FBI agent had no evidence that Sidhu actually solicited campaign funding from the Angels, or that the team’s representative was aware of his intention. Angels representatives have said they conducted “honest arms-length negotiations” that were done in “good faith.”

In the wake of Sidhu’s resignation, the City Council voted May 24 to cancel the deal amid concerns about the appearance of conflict of interest or corruption.

[Orange County Register] – Dana Bartholomew

Read more