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There is a reason we live in the city of Anaheim, in Orange County. We choose to. It is a dynamic and diverse gem, with a robust economy and a multitude of cultural wonders. This was, is, and will continue to be our home. By choice, and proud of it.
We did not choose to live in Los Angeles. Yet, the Anaheim City Council seems perfectly willing to surrender the city’s identity to the metropolis to the north. On Friday, the council will vote on an opaque deal to sell Anaheim Stadium and its 153 acres – perhaps the most valuable asset owned by the citizens of Anaheim — to SRB Management Company, LLC. Little is known about this company; the partners have not even been disclosed.
Some quick history:
When the current lease on the stadium was negotiated in 1996, one critical term stipulated that “Anaheim” be in the team name. The city at the time understood the tremendous economic and community value the name had on rightfully reinforcing Anaheim and Orange County as its own unique place, apart from any other metropolis (by way of comparison, Anaheim alone is larger than St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Orange County, if incorporated, would be the third largest city in the U.S.).
We celebrated the Anaheim Angels with the 2002 World Series. Soon after taking control of the team, Arte Moreno unilaterally changed the name to “The Los Angeles Angels,” adding “of Anaheim” to disingenuously attempt to satisfy the intent – but definitely not the spirit – of the lease. Today, the team is known as the “Los Angeles Angels,” and Arte Moreno continues, to hold the city of Anaheim in contempt; implying a move to Tustin or Long Beach if he doesn’t get his way.
Arte Moreno’s disregard can somewhat be excused. He was never elected to serve the interests of the people of Anaheim. However, the seven current members of the Anaheim City Council have indeed been entrusted to protect the interests of the residents of Anaheim. We fear they will fail that trust by moving forward by selling the stadium property to Arte Moreno and his unknown partners. (Only Councilmembers Jose Moreno and Denise Barnes have so far defended the Anaheim name and our city’s financial interest.)
Crucial information about this real estate deal is missing, and what little has been made public appears stunningly one sided against Anaheim taxpayers.
First, other than Mr. Moreno, we do not know who is purchasing the property. There has been no disclosure on the identities of the partners of SRB Management, LLC. The current owners of the property – the people of Anaheim – have been denied the right to know who is being given the exclusive privilege to purchase their most valuable real estate asset.
Second, the stadium and the 150 acres will sell for $325M. (other experts think it’s worth much more). But there is a catch. That $325M is the maximum value that the city could theoretically receive. Any “community benefits” will be deducted from that amount. “Community benefits” are only vaguely defined, and will most assuredly reduce the final sale price by millions of dollars, possibly hundreds of millions. There is no limit on this loophole, and the people of Anaheim will be paying the price.
Lastly, most importantly, and disappointedly: the City Council majority has abandoned its identity, pride, and its very name in the pursuit of this bad deal. There is no requirement, or even a suggestion, that the team be named Anaheim Angels. This is in contrast to a recent sale of land adjacent to the Honda Center where last year’s city council unanimously required that as a condition to selling the land at appraised value, that the Ducks unequivocally be named Anaheim. Now, the City finally has leverage to correct the embarrassing aberration of the moniker “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. They must use this leverage for the name change and they must use it now. Non-negotiable. Otherwise, the team will forever be named after Los Angeles and there will be nothing anyone can do about it.
Anaheim and Orange County are not a suburb of Los Angeles. Anaheim residents are proud of our history, our culture, our economic strength, and our role as the hub of arguably the most dynamic county in the nation. We expect our elected council to take pride in their city and county, and as part of any sale, require the baseball team in Anaheim be named after it’s host city.
This Friday afternoon when the City Council meets to sell Anaheim’s largest real estate asset, we respectively urge a “no” vote.
Tom Daly, Anaheim Mayor (1994-2002)
Tom Tait, Anaheim Mayor (2010-2018)
Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.
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