Anaheim wants to sell Angel Stadium to baseball team’s owners for a radically reduced $150 million

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Angel Stadium, Anaheim, CA. Photo by Jerry Reuss

The city of Anaheim wants to sell Angel Stadium and the surrounding land to the baseball team’s owners for $150 million. That’s less than half the price tag announced last year when private talks began.

“This plan will turn the area around the stadium into an exciting place we can be proud of,” says Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. “It’ll bring affordable housing so working families can live in what will be one of the most desirable places in Anaheim.”

But who’s footing the bill for those affordable housing units and the seven-acre park surrounding them? 

KCRW speaks with Gustavo Arellano, host of Orange County Line and writer for the LA Times.

KCRW: The city has owned the stadium for more than 50 years. Why is it selling it now? 

Arellano: “They've been trying to develop the land around Angel Stadium forever. There's been so many proposals over the past 25 years. They were going to do indoor surfing, they were going to do indoor skiing, all these cockamamie proposals. 

Finally, they're just getting out of the game. Angel Stadium is old and needs to be either replaced or refurbished, and the city just doesn't have the money. So here comes Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels, and says, “Hey, I'll buy it off of you. Let's make a deal.”

Arte Moreno and the Angels have threatened to leave Anaheim. That threat has centered on the stadium. They wanted something new and brighter down the road. Is what we're seeing here a byproduct of that?

“Oh, that's totally what it is. A couple of years ago the city of Anaheim, just to assuage the demands of Moreno, wanted to lease the land around Angel Stadium for $1 a year and Moreno would be able to do whatever development. There was such an uproar from the residents of Anaheim that it got scrapped. 

So instead, the city and Angels got together and came up with this decision in 2019 to sell the stadium to the Angels and the land around it. At the time, the price was estimated to be about $325 million. Now we're getting news that the actual cash that the city of Anaheim will get from the sale will actually be $150 million.”

Why the reduced price tag?

“The city is asking Moreno to develop about 500 affordable housing units and a seven-acre park. According to the city, that's going to cost Marino $150 million. It's not technically taxpayer subsidized, but they're giving Marino a huge discount. He has to build it, but in return, he doesn't have to pay as much for the land and the stadium.”

It seems like Moreno is getting a really good deal.

“Oh, and then some. The city itself did an appraisal, like if they put the land and the stadium on the open market, what could they possibly get? And one of the estimates went as high as $500 million.

Think about it. This is prime real estate property — right off the 57, not too far away from the 91, next to the ARTIC station, across the street from the Honda Center. For the city to basically give a heavily discounted price to a baseball team that has consistently threatened to move over the past couple of years, it's just preposterous, frankly.”

What are Anaheim residents saying about all of this?

“There's a lawsuit trying to block this sale, but you're going to need politicians in Anaheim to try to rally up residents and say, ‘Hey, this is not ultimately good for the financial future of the city.’

Of course, that rarely works. Look at what's happened with Disneyland over the past 65 years. They could get almost whatever they want with the city. The Angels are basically trying to be the new Disneyland.

The fans, they don't care. They just want their beloved, underperforming Halos to be here for their lifetime.”

Credits

Guest:
Gustavo Arellano - Host, 'Orange County Line' - @GustavoArellano

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Jenna Kagel, Kathryn Barnes