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The Anaheim City Council didn’t receive a finalized appraisal of Angel Stadium during Tuesday’s closed session portion of the meeting, despite the city receiving a draft two weeks ago.
“We were given no copies and were explicitly told we won’t be getting any copies of the appraisal yet,” Councilman Jose Moreno told Voice of OC Tuesday evening, after the meeting. “It’s still in draft form.”
The previous Council voted Nov. 20 to conduct the assessment at market rate and make it public once it’s completed.
But Voice of OC open government consultant Terry Francke said the city is within its rights to withhold the appraisal from the public during negotiations because it could give away leverage the city potentially has.
“The Public Records Act has an expressed exemption for appraisals that a public agency has had done, until the deal is final. That’s something that they do have the authority to do,” Francke said in a Tuesday phone interview.
“The general idea is they don’t want the appraised value, that they have bought and paid for, to get out there and influence the other side in how much its willing to pay or it’s how much it’s going to ask for in payment, depending on whether its buyer or seller,” Francke said.
He said a move to try to make the appraisal public will be a political one and not bound by the previous City Council’s vote.
“The previous council’s assurance in no way binds their successor. It’s not like a contractual pledge or anything. It’s a political pledge, but it’s not something the new council is committed to, other than politically,” Francke said.
Moreno was able to schedule some other aspects of the Angels negotiations on future agendas, including a discussion about the current lease. The lease, which was amended in January, nullified the Angels October 2018 lease termination and reinstated the old lease that runs until 2029. It also extended the team’s termination window to December 31 of this year, during which the team can terminate the lease at anytime.
“People believe that the lease is over in December 2020,” Moreno said during the meeting. “In fact, as was confirmed by the city attorney (Robert Fabela) … it was an extension of the termination rights of the option.”
He was able to schedule a review of the extension after Councilmembers Denise Barnes and Jordan Brandman supported his motion.
Moreno also scheduled a City Council discussion of potential deal points in the negotiations, like market-based rent or a larger share of direct stadium revenue, between Anaheim and the Angels for a future agenda. Brandman and Barnes supported his motion during council comments.
Mayor Harry Sidhu, who got himself voted onto the negotiating team by the Council majority, asked Fabela if the City Council is able to put that item on the agenda.
“I’d like to ask the city attorney if that item can be agendized because … we already have a negotiating team and this cannot be agendized,” Sidhu said.
Fabela replied, “There’s no legal restriction to having the Council discuss that in public session — it’s up to the Council.
“Otherwise Mr. Mayor, how would you know what this council wants to see in negotiations? We can’t discuss it in closed session by law,” Moreno interjected.
Sidhu brought the January extension to the Council.
According to a copy of Sidhu’s March 5 state of the city speech uploaded to Anaheim’s website, he spoke with the Angels about potential uses of land surrounding the stadium during the initial meeting.
“I reached out to the team’s owner, Arte Moreno (unrelated to Councilman Jose Moreno), to see what we could do to keep the team here, unlock the potential of the land around the stadium and craft a plan that benefits our city and our residents. Arte and I sat down and discussed the need to extend the team’s option for one year in order to work out a long-term deal,” reads Sidhu’s speech.
Under Anaheim’s current lease with the Angels originally signed in 1996, the team keeps all advertising revenue and the city won’t see any ticket revenue unless the team sells over 2.6 million tickets in a year. Anaheim got $972,000 in ticket revenue for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but also spent $683,000 on stadium maintenance. The city gets $2 a ticket after the 2.6 million ticket threshold is met.
The lease mandated “Anaheim” be included in the team name.
At the time, having Anaheim in the team’s name was part of the city’s concession on stadium revenues.
When Arte Moreno bought the ball club from Disney in 2003, he changed the name to “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” and the move drew the ire of both Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Anaheim ended up suing the Angels over the name change but a judge ruled in 2005 the name change still adhered to the lease so long as “Anaheim” was in the team name.
Now, the Angels are simply called “The Los Angeles Angels” and Anaheim is no longer in the name on any Major League Baseball websites or the team’s website.
National experts on sports stadium deals have previously told Voice of OC cities like Anaheim should focus on capturing direct revenue from the stadium itself from things like ballpark tickets and parking tickets, instead of relying on revenue from nearby development spurred by the stadium.
A USA Today article, written by its baseball editor Gabe Lacques Aug. 8, found yearly attendance has been shrinking for nearly all baseball teams and Major League Baseball game attendance dropped 4 percent in 2018 and is on track for another drop this year. And for at least the last 20 years, teams have been shrinking the number of stadium seats in an effort to make attendance look high.
Lacques found only five teams sold at least 87 percent of their 2019 tickets and have sold at least 2.6 million tickets every season since 2000: the Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees.
The Oakland A’s baseball team is looking to buy half the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum land, where they play now, in order to develop it to recoup the team’s construction costs of a new stadium six miles away, according to reporting by Mercury News columnist Daniel Borenstein. The move would result in tens of millions of dollars in public subsidies for the new stadium, Borenstein wrote.
The proposed sale of coliseum land to the A’s sparked an Aug. 13 editorial by the Mercury News denouncing the move as “a sweetheart deal for the A’s at county taxpayer expense.”
Although the Anaheim Ducks stayed at the Honda Center, the city did authorize the sale of parking lots around the center for $10.1 million to the team’s management company so they can develop the land. The city was also able to lower profit-sharing thresholds in the November deal and handed over management of ARTIC — along with its annual $2.5 million deficit — to Henry Samueli’s Anaheim Arena Management, which has run the Honda Center since 2003. Samueli also owns the Anaheim Ducks.
Under the Honda Center deal, the Ducks now only have to generate $6 million annually before the city gets 50 percent of revenues above that threshold. Before it was 20 percent of revenue after the Honda Center hit the $12 million mark, according to an OC Register November article.
As of early June, the Angels have hired more development consultants to aid the team in negotiations with Anaheim.
Meanwhile, Moreno announced during the meeting he’s going to be holding two community meetings in the following weeks to get residents’ opinions on what they want to see negotiated into the new stadium deal.
One meeting is Aug. 21 at the Central Library and another is Aug. 29 at the Euclid branch library. Both meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“We’re hosting the community meetings to discuss the … Angels Stadium lease to update the public on all things we know that we’re allowed to share, but also to get perspectives from the public on negotiations and their thoughts,” Moreno said. “And of course any councilmembers, up to two, you’re more than welcome to join us for that conversation to hear from our residents.”