Still catching up on Los Angeles Angels stadium news from the Orange County Register, whose paywall appears to make its articles invisible to Google News bots. Anyway, last Friday, reporter Martin Wisckol revealed that the $130-150 million in stadium renovations that the Angels had previously been reported as willing to take on in exchange for free development rights to the Angel Stadium parking lots — something worth anywhere from $30 million to $380 million, depending on who’s counting — is in fact already the team’s responsibility:
Under the proposed update of the lease, “Angels assume responsibility for all maintenance” estimated at “$130M – $150M over the next twenty years,” and the city would be “relieved from all responsibility for stadium maintenance, repair and capital improvements,” according to a city staff PowerPoint presentation to the City Council on Sept. 3.
But a close reading of the current lease, valid until 2029, shows that the team is already on the hook for those $130 million to $150 million in renovations.
Now, to some degree this is a rhetorical point: Angels owner Arte Moreno has an opt-out clause in his lease, and is threatening to leave (to where, he’s not saying) if he doesn’t get public subsidies via the land gift, so it’s still “I’ll pay to fix up the place if you let me build stuff in your parking lot.” But it’s not a swap of two concessions, as the city of Anaheim had been describing it, but more an offer not to shoot this dog if Moreno gets his free land.
It’s another good piece from the Register, and tends to mitigate somewhat the paper’s dirt-slow response to cover the proposed lease deal at first, as noted by John Mecklin of the Columbia Journalism Review. And it’s certainly far better than the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the issue, which as Mecklin says featured the “journalistically unusual move” of having sports reporter Bill Shaikin write an opinion column tout the deal as being “as good as it gets for Anaheim.” Shaikin is supposedly still on the Angels lease beat for the Times, but it doesn’t look like he’s actually written anything on it since the opinion column — unless he has one of those Google bot cloaking devices, too.