The city of Anaheim and Los Angeles Angels officials are set to have a second closed-door negotiating session tomorrow for a new lease that would include a stadium renovation plan, as the clock ticks down to a December 31 deadline for the team to decide on whether to opt out of its current lease. Or, doesn’t tick down so much at all?
The team faces a Dec. 31 deadline to opt out of its stadium lease or remain bound to it through 2029, but one city councilman suggested the deadline might not be that firm.
“I’m hearing it’s not a big pressure point,” Councilman Jose Moreno said after Tuesday’s council meeting…
Even without an extension, there is nothing that would prevent the team and city from resuming negotiations in the new year. The Angels are well aware that their ultimate deadline could be next November, when three of the seven council seats come up for election.
I mean, sure: There is nothing stopping Angels owner Arte Moreno from declining to exercise his opt-out next month, then continuing to negotiate with the council to rip up his old lease and give him a new one that grants him development rights to the stadium parking lot. Except that would be really dumb, for both sides: Moreno’s only leverage to force Anaheim to rip up his lease is that opt-out, and Anaheim has no incentive to do a stadium deal unless that threat is on the table; it’s always possible that the city could agree to extend the opt-out for a year like it did last December, but what would it gain from that?
While it’s tough to tell given the secret nature of the talks, this whole thing certainly smells less like private and public parties each trying to negotiate the best deal for their respective sides, and more like two partners in general agreement on wanting to do the deal haggling over the exact details while waiting for the clock to wind down to the point where there won’t be time for any public debate before a final vote. Not that it’s always bad to be non-adversarial — hey, maybe this deal would be so lucrative that the city and Moreno will both end up with big cash windfalls (spoiler: it won’t be) — but when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, it’s more than a bit disconcerting to see the public’s representatives saying, Sure, the bomb goes off at midnight, but we can always just ask him to shut it off and keep talking, it’s all good.