The Anaheim city council is set to vote tonight on selling $500 million in stadium land to Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno for $150 million plus some promises to build stuff, and one former mayor is not mincing words when it comes to telling councilmembers that they should vote “no”:
In a Sunday letter to Mayor Harry Sidhu and the City Council, Assemblyman Tom Daly (who was mayor from 1992 to 2002) urged them to reconsider the $320 million deal and “avoid the embarrassment and lawsuits that are sure to follow this one-sided deal.”
I would love to tell you more about what Daly said, but the Orange County Register doesn’t link to the letter, and it’s not on Daly’s state assembly website and he doesn’t appear to have a Twitter, so we’ll just have to imagine the rest.
The OCR spoke to two other former Anaheim mayors as well. Curt Pringle, who succeeded Daly at City Hall in 2002, said that getting full market value for the land isn’t an issue because the city “didn’t buy [the stadium site in the 1960s] to be land speculators, they really bought it to be an economic engine,” which would actually seem to be an argument for seeing if any other bidders would present a plan with more economic impact — maybe one without an empty-most-of-the-year baseball stadium in the middle of it. Tom Tait, who succeeded Pringle in 2010 and immediately put a halt to plans to hand over the stadium land for next to nothing, notes that when the city was looking at selling one-third of the parcel for $53 million for an NFL stadium, Sidhu, then a city councilmember, “jumped out in the middle of the press conference and said that land’s worth at least $150 million.”
All of which is very entertaining #drama, but all that really matters is what the members of the council think, and as we saw last December, the majority were happy to sit on their hands while everyone shouted about the deal and then quietly vote to approve it. (Tonight’s meeting will be via Zoom, but local residents can submit comments by email until 2:30 pm Pacific time today.) Two incumbents, Denise Barnes and Steve Faessel, are up for reelection in November, but Barnes was actually one of the two no votes already, so even fear of facing angry constituents at the polls isn’t likely to do much to sway the council’s decision. Maybe it can be reversed later with lawsuits? Or, even better, with embarrassment? Man, would it be a great world if that worked.