Angels Fear Public’s Reaction to Stadium Land Appraisal

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The Angels baseball team is now objecting to an appraisal of the land surrounding Angel Stadium, saying the value would be “misunderstood by the general public,” according to an April 24 letter to the city from team president John Carpino.

Last week, the Anaheim City Council voted to make public the appraisal of 155 acres of city-owned land surrounding the stadium. A proposed lease framework that is currently on the table would give team owner Arte Moreno the land for $1 per year for 66 years, with the idea that Moreno would use revenue from developing the land to finance up to $150 million in stadium renovations.

Residents won’t understand the full picture mainly because the appraisal will include the land value without “encumbrances,” the team’s letter states. It is well known that the Angels have rights to the parking around the stadium, making construction by an independent developer difficult and expensive.

An appraisal that doesn’t take this into account “will lead to an unworkable situation” in the negotiations for a new stadium lease, according to the letter. This is presumably because residents will see the deal as unfair to taxpayers once they know the full value of what the public is giving up.

Also, an excerpt of the appraisal city officials sent to the Angels contains “extraordinary assumptions,” the letter states.

Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey could not be immediately reached for comment.

The proposed lease framework has been a controversial issue ever since he council majority approved the proposed framework last year. The team’s letter shows that negotiations between the team and the city have soured since the details went public.

Critics, lead by Mayor Tom Tait, call it a massive giveaway of public land to a billionaire baseball team owner, and that Moreno is already obligated under the current lease to perform the renovations. Members of the council majority say that the framework is just the starting point for negotiations.

However, the Angels are clearly not happy with proposals from the city that are different from the lease framework. The letter states the Angels were “surprised” to see a Dec. 3, deal terms sheet that “significantly departed from the framework we were discussing.”

Another deal terms sheet dated March 19 “shocked” the Angels because it “ignored” the team’s counter proposal and “removed any inducement for the Angels to undertake substantial economic risk and responsibility negotiated” into the original lease framework.

Tait, who led a public campaign that turned the political winds against the deal, was not surprised by the letter’s contention that term sheets seen as too different would be unacceptable to the Angels.

“Again the city council should never have voted for an MOU giving the property away for $1 a year for 66 years, or to allow Anaheim to be taken out of the name,” Tait said.

“When I made a motion to continue, no one even seconded it.”

Tait also said the appraisal should be made public because “the property belongs to the people of Anaheim, and they’re entitled to know what the property is worth.”

Members of the council majority, including Jordan Brandman, Gail Eastman and Lucille Kring, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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