Moreno officially shuts down talks with Anaheim on Angels land deal, makes goo-goo eyes at Tustin

The Los Angeles Angels‘ season is decidedly not over — they open the American League Division Series on Thursday, against either the A’s or Royals — but Angels president John Carpino still managed to upstage his own team’s division crown on Friday, by announcing that he was walking away from negotiations with Anaheim on renovating his stadium, and could instead look into moving the team to the nearby small city of Tustin:

“Our goal from day one was to ensure a high-quality fan experience well into the future,” John Carpino, the Angels president, said in a statement as his team prepares for the playoffs. “We have spent a lot of time on this memorandum of understanding, and after 12 months, we feel our best course of action is to dissolve this non-binding agreement.

And this from Angels owner Arte Moreno:

“It’s been over a year,” Moreno said. “We’ve gone backwards. We haven’t accomplished anything.”

What’s going on here, in a nutshell: Moreno declared last year that he’d be happy to renew his lease and do stadium renovations on his own dime, if the city of Anaheim would just give him the right to develop his stadium’s parking lot for one dollar Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait then conducted an appraisal of the land the Angels wanted, and determined that it was worth between $245 million and $325 million, significantly more than Moreno was planning to spend on renovations.

This was, as Deadspin aptly puts it, “how to call a team’s bluff on stadium subsidies.” Moreno, though, had more bluffs up his sleeves than that, and speculation immediately began that the team could move somewhere else in Orange County. Say, Tustin, which has a large decommissioned marine air station it could hand over for a dollar if it really wanted to. Or Irvine, which … is also in Orange County, so sure, why not?

Whether this Tustin threat is for real or just leverage is hard to say: As I told the Orange County Register, it’s conceivable that Moreno could come up with enough cash for a stadium if he were given enough free land, and maybe some property or sales tax kickbacks or something. Or it could be that he just hopes the fear of being the guy who lost the Angels to Tustin would be enough to scare Tait into capitulating. It shouldn’t be — if the Angels left, Anaheim would suddenly have $325 million worth of vacant land it could then develop, and Angels fans really wouldn’t be put out by driving a few extra miles to Tustin — but this is what brinksmanship looks like. The Tustin city council, meanwhile, has called a special closed session (preceded by public comments) for 4:45 pm tomorrow to discuss a possible land deal with Moreno.

And finally, let’s not forget this, from the Voice of OC:

The Angels’ stadium lease with Anaheim runs out in 2029. A previous clause in the lease allowed the Angels to leave in 2016. If the owners didn’t use the exit clause, the team was locked in until 2029. But last year, the city council gave the Angels three more years, until 2019, to decide whether to stay in Anaheim or go elsewhere.

Great negotiating there, Anaheim city council.


3 comments on “Moreno officially shuts down talks with Anaheim on Angels land deal, makes goo-goo eyes at Tustin

  1. Well done, Mayor Tait. At least the low hanging fruit wasn’t so easy for Moreno to grab. I still can’t see all this land on google maps… but maybe it’s subject to some sort of disney blackout or something…

    If they do move, will the Angels become the Los Angeles Angels of Tustin? How about Tustin AFB?

    Very hard for me to imagine Moreno will move the club just to get control of developable land around a stadium (that it appears he would have to pay for himself). That seems very much like a “Glendale” solution – desperate act – with the obvious drawback that there doesn’t seem to be a city desperate enough to pay the Angels to move, build them a stadium, then pay them to play in that stadium.

    Yet.

  2. I hate to defend a billionaire, but I suppose I am about to do just that . . . .

    If Moreno were to develop the parking lots surrounding the Big A, he would be responsible not only for the costs of the stadium renovation, but also for the cost of building fairly sizable parking structures to replace the surface lots that would be consumed by the new development. So the real costs of the stadium project would be far higher than the $150 million figure that people are throwing around.

    I suspect, though, that the Angels are just blowing smoke because the Tustin site has serious deficiencies. The site in Tustin that would be most appropriate would be a location adjacent to the Tustin Metrolink station at the corner of Jamboree and Edinger. That site, however, appears to be off the table, and the sites that have been mentioned are just awful compared to the current Big A site.

    If I was Moreno, I would be looking north for a new site, and maybe even at locations just across the county line in Long Beach.

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