The Anaheim City Council voted Tuesday night not to publicly disclose new estimates on the cost of developing the Angel Stadium property.
The vote was 4 to 1 with Mayor Tom Tait voting to make the information public.
In May, the city released a report appraising the 155-acre Angels’ Stadium property at between $225 million and $325 million.
On Tuesday, the council voted to keep secret a new and recently completed appraisal based on a new set of assumptions, including:
• The cost of building a new stadium of equivalent capacity
• The effect of public investment on new stadium construction for other Major League Baseball teams
• The cost of demolishing the stadium by either the city of Anaheim or a new owner
State law allows cities to hold onto information relevant to property negotiations until a deal is complete.
The stadium negotiations have been ongoing for nearly a year as councilmembers and Tait spar over what constitutes a good lease deal for Anaheim taxpayers.
Last year, council members approved a lease that would grant Angels team owner Arte Moreno the land for 66 years at $1 annually. Moreno would use revenue from developing the property to finance an estimated $150 million in renovations to the aging stadium.
Almost immediately, a chorus of critics, led by Tait, derided the deal as a giveaway of public assets to a billionaire team owner. The mayor has insisted all along the land is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and he says a fair deal would be a 50/50 split in development revenue between the city and Moreno.
Tait also pointed out that Moreno already is obligated to make the renovations under the current lease. Meanwhile, members of the council majority have maintained that last year’s framework was just the starting point for negotiations.
Asked Tuesday night by councilmembers if release of the new report would hurt negotiations, Interim City Manager Paul Emery said making public further documentation would add “no value to the negotiations.”
Members of the council majority said releasing the documents could weaken the city’s negotiating position. The Angels objected to the decision to publicly release the first report in April.
“I think releasing another thing is just going to be detrimental to the negotiations. And frankly, I think it’s just going to make the Angels very, very upset,” said Councilwoman Lucille Kring.
Council members emphasized the need to close the deal.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re even analyzing what it would mean to demolish our stadium,” said Councilwoman Kris Murray. “We need to protect the best negotiation position for the city of Anaheim…it’s extraordinarily important that we get this done.”
But, countered Tait before the council voted, “of course I want to keep the Angels’ here – who doesn’t? But I also want to make sure the people of Anaheim get a fair deal for the largest real estate asset we own.”
“Our fiduciary is to the people of Anaheim,” he added, “…they deserve a fair return on their property.”
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