With Owner Arte Moreno looking to sell the Angels, Anaheim City Council members want to know how much money is needed to bring Angel Stadium up to first class professional standards.
It’s a cost city officials say falls on the Major League Baseball team under the lease.
Councilmembers voted unanimously at their Nov. 15 city council meeting to direct staff to solicit bids for a property condition assessment of Angel Stadium.
“There’s a requirement obligation to the owner, that they maintain the stadium at a first class professional baseball stadium quality. So we’ve never done an assessment to determine whether that’s actually happened and so this is due diligence as landlords to make that assessment,” Councilman Jose Moreno said at the meeting.
The decision was made months after FBI agents released a sworn affidavit in May accusing former Mayor Harry Sidhu of trying to get $1 million in campaign support from the Angels executives to ram through the Angel Stadium land sale.
Sidhu, who’s denied all wrongdoing, hasn’t been publicly charged with a crime.
After federal agents made their corruption probe into city hall public, Sidhu resigned and city council members canned the deal, despite Angels owner Arte Moreno demanding the city to move forward with the land sale.
After the deal got nixed, Arte Moreno announced he’s considering selling the major league team and SRB Management – a management company led by Moreno – demanded $5 million from the city over transaction costs for the failed land sale.
They also threatened to sue the city for violating their lease over construction of a proposed fire station on the stadium’s parking lot to help bolster the nearby OC Vibe development at the Honda Center.
Now, council members are questioning if the Angels have lived up to their end of the lease that requires they maintain the city owned stadium at a first class level.
Marie Garvey, a spokesperson for the Angels, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Over the years, the Angels in communications with the city estimated the stadium needs $150 million in upgrades and wants the city to help pay for it.
According to city staff, the Angels had started the process of conducting an assessment of the stadium in 2013, but a final work product was never produced even with the city throwing in $65,000 for it.
“So Arte (Moreno) owes us $65,000,” said Councilman Moreno following the revelation from staff at the Nov. 15 meeting.
Fire Station Put on Pause
Councilman Moreno called for the discussion on assessing the stadium’s maintenance needs.
His request came 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.
City council members unanimously approved the OC Vibe proposal headed by Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli on Sept. 27 months after they unanimously killed the Angel Stadium land sale amid public backlash.
On Sept. 29, the city received a letter from SRB Management Attorney Allan Abshez.
He claimed the proposed fire station would violate their Angels’ lease agreement and that the lease only allowed for certain structures to be built and operated in the lot — but not a fire station.
Abshez also said if the city didn’t cancel the design-build agreement for the fire station within 30 days they would be in default of the lease.
City Attorney Rob Fabela disputed that claim in a response letter to Abshez on Oct. 27 and wrote that the fire station was needed to address delayed response times and ensure adequate fire protection services in the Platinum Triangle.
“We disagree that the City’s intent to build Fire Station No. 12 on the site that the parties had mutually agreed would be best suited for this important health and safety improvement violates the lease,” Fabela wrote.
Fabela, however, said in the letter that because of the legal threat, the city would not move forward with construction of the project.
“However, the City will continue with the design of a Fire Station as it sees fit. The city reserves all rights it may have to recover from Angels Baseball any damages caused by the delay or cancellation of Fire Station No. 12,” he wrote.
Moreno told the Voice of OC in the past that the fire station had been a part of the Angel Stadium land sale negotiations and now the deal is dead, the team is exercising its right under their lease that was reinstated in 2019.
The Angels are entirely responsible for the maintenance of the stadium under the same lease they used to get the city to hit the brakes on the fire station.
But the Angels seemingly haven’t focused the money they’ve spent in recent years on maintenance, according to building permits.
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.
According to an Oct. 25 city staff report, the Angels have spent $54.5 million on capital repairs and improvements on the stadium since 2002 – $12.3 million of that money came from the city.
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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