Potential sale of Angels Baseball triggers stadium speculation

Arte Moreno would leave behind aging ballfield, scandal of scuttled redevelopment deal

Arte Moreno and Angels Stadium at 2000 East Gene Autry Way in Anaheim (Getty Images)
Arte Moreno and Angels Stadium at 2000 East Gene Autry Way in Anaheim (Getty Images)

News that Arte Moreno could sell the Angels Baseball team has left the city of Anaheim reeling over how to move past a failed stadium development deal.

The potential sale of the franchise for as much as $3 billion calls into question how the city might improve its half-century old Angel Stadium and develop its underused parking lots, the Orange County Register reported.

The hand-wringing began after Angels Baseball announced this week it had hired a firm to “evaluate strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the team.”

The potential sale comes three months after Anaheim officials pulled the plug on a $320 million deal to sell the stadium and its surrounding 153 acres to Moreno’s SRB Management, which planned to develop more than 5,000 homes plus offices, shops, restaurants and hotels.

The sale soured in the wake of a stadium corruption scandal involving former mayor Harry Sidhu.

The linchpin for the deal resigned after a federal agent accused him of providing confidential information about the stadium sale to Angels Baseball officials in hopes of receiving $1 million in campaign aid. He has not been charged with wrongdoing.

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Prospective Angels buyers may consider the stadium lease runs through 2029 and could be extended through 2038. The City Council does not need to approve the transfer of the lease to new owners.

That lease charges the city as landlord with some maintenance costs, but makes the tenant responsible for keeping the stadium up to the standard of “first class professional baseball stadiums,” according to the Register.

A city study from a decade ago estimated the stadium needs at least $150 million in improvements. With inflation, “we would estimate that figure is easily double,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said.

Some see a silver lining in an Angels sale. A new owner would give the city a chance to reset expectations for the future lease or sale of the stadium, or even a name change back to Anaheim Angels, from the Los Angeles Angels.

Others see a future Long Beach Angels, with a new owner moving the team to the coast, possibly in a new stadium.

— Dana Bartholomew

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