Angels owner now getting $500m in stadium land for just $150m plus “benefits”

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.

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One comment on “Angels owner now getting $500m in stadium land for just $150m plus “benefits”

  1. “No, I don’t get how $325 million minus $169 million equals $150 million, but what’s $6 million among friends?”

    The city knocked $5 million off the price because they’re retaining 2.5 acres of the property for a water well and a future fire station. And the $169 million is actually $169.9 million ($123.7 million for the housing, and $46.2 million for the park).

    This deal is such hot garbage. As an Anaheim resident with two kids of prime park-going age, it’s the park credit that galls me the most — all of the parks in our neighborhood are filled to the gills, the city can’t/won’t replace old and clapped-out playground equipment unless they can find a sponsor like Disney to slap their name on it, and we’re giving Moreno $46 MILLION to build a play park for drunken adults as an amenity to raise the value/appeal of *his* complex?

    One might hope that the smoking crater left in Anaheim’s budget by the closure of every leisure-related entity might’ve started our civic ‘leaders’ asking “gee, what could happen if we stopped subsidizing hotels and sports teams and built a diversified economy instead?”, but no.

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