How much is Angel Stadium worth? And when should the public be informed?
Those questions loom large as Anaheim officials negotiate for a new lease deal with Angels owner Arte Moreno.
They’re expected to hash it out at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when officials will decide whether to make a recent stadium appraisal public.
Mayor Tom Tait said there’s a strong policy reason to bring the public that information.
“The public, I think, has a right to know what that property is worth,” Tait said last year.
City Attorney Michael Houston, meanwhile, has warned that releasing it too soon could undercut the city’s negotiating position.
Houston is citing an exemption in the state’s public records act that allows local government to keep secret certain information related mainly to property negotiations and personnel issues.
The city does plan to release the appraisal at some point before the final lease deal is approved, then City Manager Marcie Edwards said in November.
That decision is completely up to council members, according to open government expert Terry Francke.
“The exemption can be asserted until after the deal is made,” said Francke, who is general counsel to Californians Aware. “So once the deal closes, then there’s no big harm in letting the whole world know what the appraisal says.”
Stadium appraisals can vary widely, as was seen a few years ago when New York City tried to appraise the land beneath Yankee Stadium.
Three city agencies estimated wildly different values for the land: $21 million, $40 million and $204 million.
A value of $175 million was ultimately given to the IRS, prompting a congressional investigation into whether city officials lied about the value.
In Angel Stadium’s case, estimates have placed its value anywhere from $30 million to nearly $400 million.
The current negotiations framework calls for Angels owner Arte Moreno to receive 155 acres of city-owned land around the stadium with development potential at a price of $1 per year.
In turn, Moreno would use revenue from developing the land to finance up to $155 million in stadium renovations.
Tait and other critics of the current proposal call it a massive giveaway of taxpayer dollars to a billionaire baseball owner for stadium renovations that he has already promised to do in the current lease agreement.
A majority of City Council members, meanwhile, have generally been more supportive of the proposal and emphasize that it is just a starting point to negotiations.
The decision is expected at Tuesday’s council meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.
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