Anaheim releases two new Angels land sale documents that still don’t provide many answers

With just ten days to go before the Anaheim city council is set to vote on a proposed $325 million land sale to Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno, the city of Anaheim has finally released more than just that three-page summary of the deal. The new documents: an agreement spelling out some details of the land sale, and a summary report on some of the financing.

Unfortunately, neither document answers any of the big questions about the sale, namely whether Moreno will pay full property taxes on both the stadium and surrounding development, what kind of deduction he’ll be able to take for building parks and affordable housing, and how the $325 million sale price was arrived at in the first place. In fact, according to Alicia Robinson of the OC Register, some of that won’t even be decided on until after next week’s council vote:

Council members won’t know when they vote Dec. 20 what that remaining balance will be because the city would reduce the final bill by a yet-to-be-determined amount for benefits it has requested, including affordable housing, additional public park facilities and a workforce agreement to encourage local hiring and the like.

The deal won’t become final without all three parts, the last of which is the city receiving tract maps for development on the property, [city spokesperson Mike] Lyster said, so “it’s not like they’re being asked to vote on something today and they don’t have all the details.”

In fact, it’s exactly like that! Lyster indicated that the deal is “contingent” on the council approving a development agreement and a community benefits agreement sometime in the spring, but if so, then why exactly are they voting on the land sale part now? And also, the land sale agreement seems to indicate (section 4.3) that the sale goes into effect as soon as Moreno signs an agreement to commit to playing games in Anaheim through 2050, agrees with the city on who’ll pay for operations and maintenance of a stadium, and determines “other terms and conditions upon which the parties agree,” so is this really contingent on the spring votes or what?

The sale agreement does indicate how Moreno would make the $325 million in payments, which would come in installments over the next five years, reducing the present value of the sale to Anaheim slightly (to $281 million, by my calculations using a 5% discount rate). Still, there are still more questions than answers about this project, the biggest of which is becoming Why the rush already? It’s going to be an interesting Anaheim council hearing next week, especially if there’s time for public comments.

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10 comments on “Anaheim releases two new Angels land sale documents that still don’t provide many answers

  1. I listened to NPR ‘On Point” for a few minutes this morning while I was in the car- the show was about sports reporting, and one listener was critical of the intrusion of politics into sports reporting on sites like Deadspin. It’s a laughable criticism when one considers the politics involved in simply getting the venues for ‘non-political’ sporting events to occur.

  2. Hey Neil,

    I am a Calgarian who recently just had to go through watching our mayor do a “heel turn” and suddenly be okay with giving the Calgary Flames close to 300 million dollars. It is so frustrating, and depressing, as a citizen to feel so powerless over watching money being given to the wealthiest in our society for no reason at all (aside from giving into the fear of the team leaving)

    I am just a bit perplexed right now. Like what can you even do as a citizen to prevent this insanity from continuing? We had a plebiscite to vote on whether we wanted to Olympics. I voted “No”, because I refused to give money to a corrupt organization like the IOC, and because I knew if we voted “Yes” the Flames would somehow find a way to get money for their arena out of it. Overall, we as a city said “No”, and I felt like our position on giving free money to billionaires was made clear.

    Fast forward to July 2019. A tentative agreement is reached out of nowhere, and we have less than a week to express our concerns to our city councillors. Just like with this Anaheim situation, the details of the deal are not clear at all. E-mail is the only way to contact, which you know are not going to be read. A week later the council, including Nenshi, votes overwhelmingly in favor of the deal.

    I am still trying to figure out what the hell happened. Nenshi goes from being absolutely clear that the city will not pay for any part of the arena unless revenue from the arena or property taxes can pay it back, to giving 300 million to the Flames being a “good deal”. Like what happens behind the scenes here? Do these sports teams bribe the counsellors to say “yes”?

    So now we are in a situation where our province is cutting things like crazy. Teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, public transportation. But this is apparently a good time to give money to billionaires, even though we just made it clear with an Olympic vote we were not okay with doing that.

    Anyhow, I just needed to vent. How is this ever going to change? What can you even do as a citizen? How do you see this as eventually changing?

    1. I had started writing an entire cynical post about the impossibility of reforming a political system controlled by money when any reforms would have to be approved by that same system, but then I realized that there are actually two examples of places that have successfully pushed back against corporate cronyist subsidies: Seattle and California. In Seattle’s case, it was two terrible stadium deals that got the populace to vote in a new law requiring that the public get a positive return on any future money it put into sports projects; in California, it was just easy access to voter initiatives itself that has largely (though not entirely) scared team owners away from trying to get large public subsidies, because they know they’d be defeated at the ballot box.

      Direct democracy doesn’t always get the best results — it also allowed for Prop 13, which decimated California’s state budget just as efficiently as any stadium. But in terms of providing a check on smoke-filled-rooms, it’s a proven winner.

      1. Prop 13 has also made countless working class people wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, and kept the state’s economy humming.

        It makes $700,000 houses affordable to middle class people, because the monthly NYT equates to a $400,000 house in a high property tax state. Plus it keeps a perpetual cycle of new buyers available.

        The Calgary situation is striking in some ways, but the reality is they were losing the Flames if they didn’t do something soon. No politician can survive the loss of the most popular social entity in town, to go with an economy that’s been limp for a decade. Cool city though, from what I hear!

          1. Agree with your NY premise.

            Disagree with your “makes $700,000 houses affordable to middle class people” premise. Not sure what your definition of middle class is. Even in CA’s least expensive housing markets, California’s Central Valley, middle class Californians entering the housing market cannot afford $700,000 homes.

            Unless your reference is to those who have lived in their homes that have now appreciated to $700,000 (enables them to live in their home, without being forced out due to rising property taxes).

            Flame on. Flame out. Cities who love their professional sports teams don’t need to go down without the ship (as for the elected official, you fall on your sword. You do what’s in the best interests of the majority of your constituents, and the city, not a billionaire. Walked this road in an earlier Anaheim comment). If past history is any indicator, another billionaire will take up shop in Calgary in time.

            Baltimore Colts / Baltimore Ravens
            Charlotte Hornets / Charlotte Bobcats-Hornets
            Houston Oilers / Houston Texans
            Los Angeles Rams / Los Angeles Chargers and Rams (again, who would’ve guessed)
            Milwaukee Braves / Milwaukee Brewers
            New Orleans Jazz / New Orleans Hornets-Pelicans
            Brooklyn Dodgers-NY Giants / NY Mets
            Saint Louis Cardinals / Saint Louis Rams
            San Jose Clash-Earthquakes / San Jose Earthquakes
            Seattle Pilots / Seattle Mariners
            Winnipeg Jets / Winnipeg Jets

            Please let me stop.

            Agreed. Calgary is cool!

        1. “The Calgary situation is striking in some ways, but the reality is they were losing the Flames if they didn’t do something soon.”

          There’s absolutely no reason to believe this. The Flames didn’t even really try to push this very far, I think they may have made some “gee, Seattle’s nice” types of statements, that’s it. The Flames make money right now and they’d have made money in the Saddledome for a long time regardless of however old the arena was. Where were they moving to? Who was buying them?

    2. The one other story I like to recall, though I can’t remember now where I read it, is about Richard Nixon somewhere on the White House tapes being asked to consider some expansion of the Vietnam War, and replied, “If I do that, the goddamn hippies will come and burn down the White House.” So flaming torches have their uses, too.

      1. Huh. I wouldn’t have thought these guys would do that sort of thing…

  3. Damn right (hippies, those of us who weren’t co-opted still would).

    Many wonder what happened with following generations. Why they didn’t pick up the mantle where we left off. So many reasons (IMHO, societal focus on motive, not means). Now we’re left with tears for fears.

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