The item on last week’s Santa Ana City Council agenda was clear. City officials were requesting approval of a six-month negotiating window with the professional soccer team Chivas USA regarding a potential move to the city.
But whether the city is actually in negotiations with the team is far from clear.
Chivas USA’s general manager, Jose Domene, told the Orange County Register Tuesday that Chivas has not “committed to any type of negotiation” and that the team is still in talks with four other cities.
Domene’s statements added to an already tense situation regarding negotiations between Chivas and Santa Ana.
Mayor Miguel Pulido had for some time been having informal talks with the team about a possible move to a future stadium at Willowick Golf Course, something that has roiled a coalition of residents who fear increases in traffic and noise.
Council approval of the six-month formal negotiating window was the first time the city entered into more serious talks with the soccer team, Pulido had said.
But the news of formal negotiations had come after co-owner Antonio Cue told MLSsoccer.com in July that the team would not be moving to any location outside Los Angeles County.
Chivas officials are not the only ones with a different understanding of Santa Ana’s negotiations with the team.
Matthew Fertal, city manager of Garden Grove, which owns the golf course in Santa Ana, said it is unusual that the council approved a negotiating window that was not exclusive.
Fertal said that cities usually enter into an agreement making negotiations exclusive with the other party as a first step toward hammering out the details of a deal. “This is a normal course. All cities would set up this preliminary step,” Fertal said.
“That would be odd because that’s the purpose of this type of agreement,” Fertal said. “If Chivas can talk to whoever they want — I don’t know why they would set it up that way.”
Another point that struck Fertal as unusual was that, according to the Register, Chivas officials haven’t signed a negotiating agreement. “Normally both sides have signed it [the agreement],” Fertal said.
Fertal said he would aprove of having Chivas at the property if it meant more revenue for Garden Grove. The city receives about $600,000 from the golf course each year, Fertal said.