As the Angels threaten to sue the city for allegedly violating their stadium lease, Councilman Jose Moreno is questioning if the major league team is living up to their end of the bargain when it comes to maintenance.
Last week, Moreno called for his colleagues to meet behind closed doors and consider the best strategy in enforcing the Angel’s maintenance obligations under the lease months after the FBI called out alleged corruption in the now dead Angel Stadium Land Sale.
“I do believe that our city should look to exercise this part of the lease,” he said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“I will seek to agendize this for closed session for us to discuss what that means legally for us, what strategies we need to think about and whether we should begin to exercise this part of our lease, as any good landlord should do to make sure that their asset is sustained and maintained at the levels they expect.”
Marie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Angels, did not return a request for comment Friday.
Moreno’s request comes after the Angels threatened to sue the city over a planned fire station on the stadium parking lot which is intended to accommodate the growth of Platinum Triangle, including the future development of OC Vibe.
In a letter to the city, SRB Management’s attorney Allan Abshez claims the city is violating their lease with the proposed fire station and that the city is only allowed to construct and operate certain structures in the parking lot — but not a fire station.
The Angels are also demanding $5 million to cover transaction costs including consultant fees, inspection fees and legal fees spent in connection with the now-dead stadium land sale as well as the legal fees for the claim.
The deal was nixed after FBI agents alleged in a sworn affidavit that former Mayor Harry Sidhu tried to get $1 million in campaign contributions from Angel executives for ramming through the sale and for sharing confidential information during the negotiations.
Arte Moreno, the team owner, announced he’s considering selling the team shortly after council members decided to throw out the stadium deal and elected officials have commissioned its own corruption probe into city hall.
At the October 4 meeting where Anaheim Council Members discussed the $5 million claim, Councilman Moreno called for a discussion of Angel’s baseball obligations under their lease for maintenance of the stadium.
Moreno however said in an interview last month that his request had nothing to do with the claim and that he wanted to discuss the Angels obligations for a while.
For years, Arte Moreno has said the stadium needs up to $150 million in upgrades and wants the city to help pay for it – an estimated cost from the team.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, city staff however said no official assessment was done to calculate the cost of maintaining the stadium at first class professional quality.
City Attorney Rob Fabela also made it clear that regardless of the cost, it’s the Angels responsibility to pay for the maintenance.
“If there’s a number out there that represents the amount of capital repairs and improvements needed to maintain Angel Stadium in good condition repair equal to a first class professional baseball stadium, Angels are responsible for that – subject to the capital reserve contribution the city makes,” he said.
The lease, which states the Angels are on the hook for repairs, was reinstated in 2019.
In the last 20 years, the city has spent $12.3 million on stadium maintenance while the Angels have spent $54.5 million, according to a staff report.
Between 2012-2019, the Angels spent $30 million on the stadium but more than half of that money was used on items that benefit the team like a scoreboard rather than maintenance.
Councilman Moreno also said he would look into agendizing an assessment of Angel Stadium’s maintenance needs.
“It behooves us to make an assessment of our asset,” he said. “And not depending on the analysis of a potential buyer, and or a potential tenant or the current tenant. Presumably, if they give us their assessment, it’ll be something more to their favor, and not certainly to the taxpayers of Anaheim.”
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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