The Anaheim city council met last night to discuss a new lease for the Los Angeles Angels that could include a sale of city development rights to team owner Arte Moreno to fund stadium renovations, but it’s 8:30 am on the West Coast already and nobody seems to be reporting on what happened, not even Twitter. Wake up and type already, Southern California!
As part of the negotiating team, I will insist that any land sales or leases be at market prices, reflecting ongoing baseball use, development we’re likely to see and any requirements we may ask for with the land. You’ll hear some argue for unrealistic prices based on what we might see if we sold all of the land for housing.
That seems to imply that whatever valuation the city places on the land, it will be for its use for the hotel-and-retail development that’s actually planned, not the “highest and best use” test that would result if the whole site were turned over to housing. That’s not necessarily unreasonable — you want to value the land on what it’ll be used for — but it does mean any appraisal should be carefully judged for its methodology, particularly what comparables it uses to get a price per acre.
Sidhu also wrote:
If we see a new lease for a city-owned stadium, it should include annual rent payments, city revenue-sharing or a combination of both. You’ll hear a lot about rent at Angel Stadium. Unfortunately, much of it is misleading.
Those who don’t want the Angels to stay, or only want a deal on their terms, will tell you the team doesn’t pay rent at the stadium. From 1996 to 1998, the team paid $87 million to fix up Angel Stadium, which then was 30 years old.
That was $87 million our residents did not have to pay to fix up our stadium.
Under the team’s current lease, $80 million of that investment counted as prepaid rent, working out to $2.5 million a year for the 33-year life of the lease. But that’s history now.
That’s considerably less reasonable: The $87 million cost wasn’t for necessary repairs to Angel Stadium, it was for stuff the Angels (then owned by Disney) wanted, mostly the removal of the outfield grandstand that had been added for the Rams in the 1970s and its replacement by some bleachers and landscaping. Counting it as “prepaid rent” assumes that these were somehow public expenses for a public benefit that the team was reimbursing the city for, which is only true if Anaheim residents were clamoring for a giant fake pile of rocks.
Anyway, this is all very much the pregame: We’re not going to know what Sidhu has in mind until he lays his cards on the table, first and foremost that land appraisal. One can only hope that it will be revealed sooner than the day of a vote on the new lease, since that seems to be the way some governments operate these days. One councilmember has requested a minimum 30-day comment period, but Sidhu and the rest of the council weren’t having it — “I will not put any timeline,” said Sidhu said, “whether it’s 30 days, 45 days, 10 days, 5 days ”— so be afraid, be very afraid.
UPDATE: Here’s Custodio’s report on the Anaheim council hearing, and it doesn’t look like much of import happened, beyond agreeing that there should be “no public subsidy or giveaway of tax dollars,” which, nobody ever admits that their plan is a “giveaway.” The land appraisal is still being called a “draft” and has no set release date, and several councilmembers said they were against making public any of the proposals before a vote, with Councilmember Lucille Kring saying, “negotiations are done in secret for a reason.” Uhhh, so no one can find out about them and object to them before you vote for them and it’s too late? It’s that one, right?