When the Los Angeles Angels stadium land deal was approved last December, it was announced that team owner Arte Moreno would be paying $325 million for Angel Stadium and the 153 acres of land that it sits on, a $175 million discount from its assessed value of $500 million because he would be insisting on continuing to play baseball on it. (Really, that was the logic, read it for yourself.) But even then, there was a catch: Moreno could be eligible for additional discounts based on how much affordable housing and other “public benefits” he would be providing.
On Friday, that additional discount was revealed, and it’s $169 million, more than half of Moreno’s announced purchase price:
Anaheim is looking to sell Angel Stadium and the roughly 150 acres around it for $150 million — less than half of the starting price tag announced late last year when private talks began….
Taxpayers will take $123 million off the purchase price to fund at least 466 affordable housing units.
Another $46 million will be paid for by taxpayers to build a seven-acre park.
(No, I don’t get how $325 million minus $169 million equals $150 million, but what’s $6 million among friends?)
As with the initial land discount, there’s some logic to this, but not the kind that is entirely logical. Yes, the public is getting some non-cash benefits out of this, but there’s little evidence that they’re really worth what Anaheim is paying for them: That housing subsidy, for example, is $264,000 per affordable unit, which is roughly half the entire cost of construction for each apartment, not just the difference in value between a rent-regulated unit and a market-value one. As for the park, I’m having a hard time coming up with consistent per-acre cost figures in other cities, but either way, you have to take into account opportunity cost here: Anaheim is agreeing to pay to fund a new park on Arte Moreno’s property, thus boosting its value to him (people like to live near parks, I’ve heard), rather than building a park somewhere that it’s more needed, or for that matter something else that Anaheim residents might want more.
In short, Arte Moreno is now getting $500 million in public land for just $150 million, because he’s claiming that providing things that he himself wants — baseball and parks, plus affordable housing if you figure that he likely needed to build some anyway to get access to the land — are just as good as cash. No matter how you slice it, that’s a pretty sweet deal, especially when just a couple of years ago Moreno was looking at getting bupkis. What a difference a new mayor makes.