How Much is Anaheim’s Baseball Stadium Really Worth?

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The Los Angels of Anaheim play the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium Sept. 28, 2019.

Anaheim residents could find out how much their stadium is worth today when the City Council votes on whether or not to release the Angel stadium appraisal as the city heads into negotiations with the Angels. 

Council members on Tuesday also may consider sunlighting any proposal submitted by the Angels for up to 30 day of public review before an official vote.

Councilman Jose Moreno, who was able to schedule the appraisal vote after two previously failed attempts, said there’s a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars between unencumbered land, which has no baseball lease with the Angels and encumbered land, meaning the The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in a lease with the city and occupying the land. 

“It’s very clear from media reporting that there are members of our community who seem to have information about our appraisal and I think it’s only fair that our entire public be made aware. Again, there is a huge difference in what is encumbered land versus unencumbered land and we know from this appraisal that we were given that’s a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars between encumbered and unencumbered under the current appraisal,” said Moreno during the end of the Oct. 22 meeting. 

The full stadium appraisal currently sits in a binder in the city manager’s office and only the City Council is supposed to see it. 

But the appraised value was apparently leaked earlier this month, when Moreno said a resident approached him with numbers he said were accurate, but he couldn’t confirm or deny the value.

“I think it’s important for the public to see the full dollar value as it’s already being discussed out in the media and the public. So I’d like to make the appraisal public at our next meeting of the City Council,” Moreno said. 

No other Councilmembers commented on the issue because the end of Council meetings are reserved for updates on which boards and commissions they sit on and for scheduling agenda items. Policy discussions aren’t allowed because it would violate state transparency law since topics, like the stadium appraisal, weren’t on the regularly scheduled agenda. 

Moreno was also able to schedule a Council vote for a 30-day review period for the final proposal the Angels makes to Anaheim for a stadium lease. 

Councilmembers Denise Barnes and Jordan Brandman supported both of Moreno’s proposed Angel stadium items. 

He needed support from two other Councilmembers to schedule the items, due to a series of changes to City Council procedures spearheaded by Mayor Harry Sidhu from December to February. Councilmembers were able to schedule agenda items without a second and third before the changes. 

Unless a Councilmember moves to table the items, which effectively kills any potential discussion, it will be the first time since Aug. 27 the Council will publicly discuss an Angel Stadium negotiation item. 

At that meeting, Sidhu and Moreno, along with most of the Council, seemed to agree on market-based rent for the stadium or market-based land sale — meaning the team should pay whatever the city can get if it put the 155-acre stadium land on the real estate market. It was the first time the Council discussed a potential negotiation wishlist since reinstating the lease and entering into a negotiation phase in January. 

Although the January vote was classified verbally by Sidhu and some key city staff as a temporary lease reinstatement, the move extended the team’s exit clause until Dec. 31 and if the team doesn’t decide to use the clause, it can stay at the stadium under the current lease until at least 2029. 

The city and ball club are hoping to finalize a lease before Dec. 31. 

Under Anaheim’s current lease with the Angels, 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. The city gets $2 a ticket after the 2.6 million ticket threshold is met. The city also gets 25 percent of revenue above $2 million generated by other events, like monster truck and motocross shows.

But Anaheim has to put money back into the stadium every year through a combination of maintenance obligations in the lease and for some bonds stemming from the 1980s for an unused convention hall, years before the current lease was signed. The city currently pays roughly $698,000 for stadium maintenance and the bonds are expected to be paid off in 2022. Bond payments fluctuate, according to data provided by city officials, but they went from roughly $740,000 in the fiscal year 2016-2017, down to nearly $24,000 for the last two fiscal years. 

Since 2010, the city has made $1.6 million from the stadium, after factoring in maintenance spending and bond payments. 

The team doesn’t pay rent because the $87 million it paid for stadium upgrades in the late 1990s is considered prepaid rent. The city also chipped in $30 million for upgrades. 

Meanwhile, the Angels are worth nearly $2 billion and make $101 million in gate receipts annually, according to Forbes estimates. The team’s net profit from the stadium — after factoring in player and employee salaries and operating expenses — is estimated at $19 million a year.  

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at scustodio@voiceofoc.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.