The city of Long Beach’s plans for a Los Angeles Angels stadium may be hampered by a cramped site and lousy transit options, but apparently they’re serious enough to have priced out how much it would cost. The answer: a buttload.
A new baseball stadium on a proposed 13-acre site known as the “elephant lot,” just east of the Convention and Entertainment Center downtown, would cost $900 million, according to a report Long Beach staffers drafted on Oct. 25. That report presented officials with different bond options for financing the project — over 20, 30 or 40 years. Each option, the report said, would push the total cost to roughly $1.1 billion after interest.
New parking garages would cost about $30,000 for each stall, according to recent estimates – or about $105 million for the 3,500 new spaces at the stadium alone, staff wrote in a report.
The 556 pages of documents turned over by Long Beach this week in response to public records requests also revealed that the Bay Area legal firm Quint & Thimmig LLP noted that the city could potentially avoid voter approval of any stadium deal by using “new financing districts [or[ public-private partnerships,” notes the Long Beach Press-Telegram, or such dedicated revenue streams as naming-rights fees or increased rates for parking at city lots. They also revealed that a Long Beach councilmember had first reached out to Angels execs way back in 2014 during the Great Tustin Footsie Episode, though talks didn’t kick off in earnest until last fall.
It’s not really fair to add in financing costs as if they’re cash being paid out now, but even assuming $900 million in present value for stadium costs, those parking garages (for only 3,500 cars, which is not a lot of cars for a 50,000-ish seat stadium) would push the total cost past $1 billion. And while it’s nice to suggest using naming rights or stadium revenues to pay off part of that cost, that’s all money that Angels owner Arte Moreno would be wanting to boost his own profits — otherwise why else move? Add in that his negotiations with Anaheim have all been about getting free or cheap land to build housing on, and the Long Beach site currently can’t have housing built on it because it’s designated “tideland,” and yeah, this is not looking like a great proposal.
If Moreno is mostly continuing talks with Long Beach to shake loose a sweet deal in Anaheim, though, then it doesn’t really matter how serious the Long Beach proposal is so long as headlines keep showing up about it. (Sorry about perpetuating that.) Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu at least seemed to take the Long Beach report in stride, saying Tuesday that “Anaheim has an incredible advantage as the best stadium site in Southern California, with great freeway access, integrated public transit, easy in-and-out and a proven experience for fans for more than 50 years now,” and snarking that “we certainly understand [Long Beach’s] ambition but do not envy the monumental task presented by financing, government approvals, traffic planning and environmental review.”
Six months after Sidhu’s election, though, we still have no idea what he’s offering to Moreno, something that Councilmember Jose Moreno, the hospitality workers’ union Unite Here Local 11, and the community group Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development this week called for remedying by making the negotiations public. City spokesperson Mike Lyster retorted that the model is the city’s Anaheim Ducks arena deal, which was made public about a month before it was voted on by the council — which is either just enough time to have a comprehensive public debate or just enough time to avoid one, depending on your perspective. It’s going to be very interesting to see what that new land appraisal for the Angel Stadium property comes in at, let’s just leave it at that.