Members of the Anaheim City Council Tuesday night will be casting the first in a series of votes that will set in stone the city’s deal with its professional baseball team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for decades to come.
Ultimately, the city and the team will agree to terms on a new lease for Angel Stadium that among other things will determine whether the city has any control over the team’s name, how much city-owned land around the stadium will be handed over to the team for development and whether the city will receive any share in revenue from that development.
But before any of those deal points are negotiated, council members must decide on a proposal to change the all-important trigger clause in the current lease. That is what they will vote on Tuesday night.
Under the current lease the Angels can leave the stadium for another city in 2016. But if the Angels don’t exercise that right, they are locked into the lease until 2029. The vote tonight is whether to extend that temporary window to 2019.
Critics have argued that if council members vote to extend the trigger clause, they will be giving away the city’s leverage in the negotiations with Angels owner Arte Moreno. As things stand now, Moreno likely doesn’t have enough time to do everything it would take to negotiate a potential deal to move the team move before the trigger clause takes effect in 2016.
Without the credible threat of a move, Moreno wouldn’t have nearly as much leverage when he negotiates for control of the team name as well as the land grant and tax subsidies for developing the land around the stadium. With another three years in the trigger clause, however, Moreno has that much more time to establish a credible threat to move.
The vote on the trigger clause will pave the way for City Council action on the other issues.
Stadium District and Diverting Tax Revenue
Franchise owners under a proposed framework for negotiating a separate land lease would also get a 66-year lease of the stadium land, including a 50-acre parcel called the “Stadium District,” for $1 per year.
Under that arrangement, the city would be freed from spending about $600,000 annually for stadium upkeep, according to a staff report.
The land lease outline being considered next week could allow team owners to keep all tax revenue, such as hotel room taxes and sales tax generated from developing the area.
The land around Angel Stadium is estimated to be worth $300 million.
With the land lease, the owners could develop a range of tax revenue generating businesses, including hotels and shops.
Under the proposed lease, the cost for about $150 million in renovations would remain with the Angels, but revenue from the ground lease, including diverted tax revenue, could be used to pay for the upgrades.
The current lease, signed in 1996, had Disney, the former team owner, contribute $80 million toward stadium renovations. The city chipped in $20 million, plus another $10 million with the transfer of a large billboard along the Route 57 freeway.
The proposed stadium lease allows the Angels to drop “Anaheim” from the team name.
Many Orange County residents felt duped by Arte Moreno, who after purchasing the team in 2003 added Los Angeles to its moniker. This deal point has already revived those sour memories for dozens of critics who weighed in on Voice of OC’s Facebook page.
Stadium lease terms now require the team brand to contain the word Anaheim but doesn’t specifically prohibit adding another city. In 2006, Moreno won a court battle when the city alleged in a lawsuit that the name change violated the spirit of the lease.