Sports team owners say the craziest things, Los Angeles Angels edition

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno addressed his team’s lease situation in Anaheim yesterday, if by “addressed” you mean “said some mumbly nothings meant to both keep up the pressure on local officials while reassuring everyone that so long as they play along, nobody will get hurt”:

The Angels’ lease runs only through 2020, and the team would like the city to make some upgrades to the ballpark before they commit beyond that.

Moreno said the talks with new Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu have been “very positive, a lot of good communication.” In past years, Moreno had not spoken as optimistically about the team’s relationship with the city.

I’d love to try to more closely read that wan bundle of tea leaves, but it looks like the OC Register was the only news outlet to report on Moreno’s press conference, so that’s all we’ve got. And we already knew that Mayor Sidhu has been way more amenable to meeting Moreno’s demands than former mayor Tom Tait, so really this doesn’t tell us much new.

Instead, I’d like to focus on something else Moreno said, about spending on player payroll, which may sound innocuous at first but which is actually pretty bizarre if taken at face value:

Owner Arte Moreno said Monday that the Angels base their budget on their revenue.

“Typically for us, we allocate about 50 percent of our revenue towards payroll, but I bust through that every year,” Moreno said. “A small-market team would go about the same. Sometimes the larger market teams would only use 40 percent. Every year is a little different with your needs.”

If you’re a fan concerned that your home team is chintzing on signing good players, or a player concerned that your employer is trying to lowball you on salary, that “50 percent of revenue” line sounds good — the more money you make, the more you share the wealth with players and invest in new talent! As far as any kind of rational economic decision-making goes, though, it’s insane: Just because you’re bringing in more money doesn’t mean you should rush out and overspend on players just to not have cash burning a hole in your pocket; and just because you’re not bringing in more money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out and spend more on players in the hope of winning more games, especially since that will bring in more money.

It’s not that it’s unusual — it’s the same logic companies use to meet revenue targets by cutting the employees who generate revenue, thus leading to a death spiral — and it’s the kind of bizarre logic there’s plenty of other evidence teams use in deciding how much to spend. And it’s not necessarily all bad, even, as the alternative is for owners to realize that how many games they win doesn’t have all that much effect on their bottom line, so might as well not try too hard to win at all.

But it’s still crazy, and should lend ammunition to anyone who would like to argue that if Moreno is deciding whether to give Albert Pujols way too much money to grow old and terrible based on how much cash he has lying around, maybe the Angels’ profitability shouldn’t be the city of Anaheim’s problem. Not that the Angels aren’t plenty profitable anyway — you know what, maybe the most insane part of all this is actually Moreno trying to demand stadium improvements as a condition of signing a lease to stay in the league’s second-largest market, as if he has any other real options. It’s so hard to tell with billionaires when they’re being crazy like a fox, and when they’re just being crazy.

Anaheim again looking to give Angels owner parking lot land valued at [sorry, no room in article for actual cost figures]

Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Shaikin has a track record of generally smart reporting with a major blind spot when it comes to Angels owner Arte Moreno’s stadium demands, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised that he’s written an extremely confused and confusing article about the latest iteration of funding stadium renovations in Anaheim. Let’s start by jumping to his recap of the previous plan:

Six years ago, the city and team cooperated on a study that showed the stadium needed about $150 million in upgrades to remain a viable long-term venue. Anaheim, like most California cities, has realized that it makes little economic sense to spend tax dollars on sports facilities if team owners keep almost all of the revenue.

The city pitched the Angels on this plan: Put up restaurants and shops in the stadium parking lot, and maybe a hotel too. Make lots of money. Use some to pay for the stadium upgrades and keep the rest.

That is, at best, an extremely misleading way of describing what actually happened: Moreno made noise about moving the Angels out of Anaheim, the Anaheim city council offered to give the team owner a huge swath of stadium parking lot land to develop so he could use the proceeds to renovate the stadium, then-mayor Tom Tait did an appraisal (over Moreno’s objections) that determined the land was worth way more ($245 million) than the entire cost of the renovations ($150 million), and then the whole thing fell apart.

Now that Tait is gone, Anaheim officials — or at least Shaikin — are apparently interested in reviving the old plan, though there’s no indication in Shaikin’s article whether the city would get a more reasonable fee for its valuable land than the $1 proposed last time, or at least get a share of revenues from the new development (since, as somebody once wrote, “it makes little economic sense to spend tax dollars on sports facilities if team owners keep almost all of the revenue”). So this could be the same old terrible deal or a revised one that’s better, or a revised one that isn’t better, but hey, Shaikin says it could bring a Trader Joe’s to Anaheim, so why all this focus on money? Can’t we all just come together around our love for dark chocolate sunflower seed butter cups?

(If you’re looking for a much better explanation of what’s going down, check out Norberto Santana Jr.’s article at the Voice of OC last week, which notes, among other things, that the city of Anaheim just authorized another assessment of the stadium land, so it doesn’t make sense to talk about giving development rights to Moreno until those numbers come back.)

Friday roundup: Fact-checking Suns arena impact claims, the hidden cost of hosting the NCAA Final Four, and everybody gets a soccer team!

Thanks to everyone who became a Field of Schemes supporter this week in order to get a pair of my goofy refrigerator magnets! If you want to hop on the magnet train, you can still do so now, or you can first stop and read the rest of the news of a wacky week in stadium and arena developments:

  • The Arizona Republic has been full of both articles and op-eds this week asserting that giving $168 million to the Phoenix Suns for arena renovations is a good thing (sample reasoning: “The arena is old and needs updated. The Suns are young and need direction.”), but then it also ran an excellent fact-check that concluded that claims of the arena having a significant impact on the city’s economy are “mostly false,” citing the umpteen economic studies showing exactly that (sample conclusion, from Temple economist Michael Leeds: “A baseball team has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store”). On balance, good enough work that I hope the Republic can avoid being bought by an evil hedge fund that is trying to buy up newspapers and strip-mine them for any assets; what would really be nice would be if they can be bought by someone who can afford copy editors (“is old and needs updated”?), but I know it’s 2019 and we can’t have everything.
  • Where the Oakland Raiders are rumored to be playing the 2019 season this week: San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Oakland. These are all disappointingly old ideas — am I going to have to be the one to suggest Rio de Janeiro?
  • And speaking of me, I wrote a long essay for Deadspin this week on how changes in baseball economic structure are incentivizing owners to cut player salaries without illegally colluding to do so. This is at best tangential to the stadium business, except inasmuch as it’s about “how sports team owners make their money and what affects their profits,” so it’s good to know even if you don’t especially care about who signs Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
  • The president of the USL wants to expand the soccer league’s two tiers to 80 teams total, which is getting awfully close to the ABA’s “bring a check and you can have a team” model.
  • The new Austin F.C. MLS team was approved to start play in 2021, and celebrated by proposing a chant to memorialize the city council vote that approved its stadium funding: “7-Fooour, 7-Fooour/It’s not the score, it was the vote/That got us all our brand new home.” I am not making this up. (If I were making this up, I would at least try to get it to rhyme.)
  • Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno signed a one-year lease extension on the team’s stadium through 2020, which is disappointing in that I really thought the city should have used this leverage to demand a longer-term lease extension (what’s Moreno going to do otherwise, go play in Rio de Janeiro?). But Craig Calcaterra’s summary of the situation (sample description: this will give time to resolve “a long-term solution for what, at least from the Angels’ perspective, is a stadium problem”) is so on point and such a good model for how to report stadium controversies fairly and accurately that I’m not in the mood to complain.
  • Hosting the NCAA Final Four will cost Minnesota $10 million, because there are lots of curtains to be hung and temporary seating to be put in place, and the NCAA sure as hell isn’t going to pay for it. But Minnesota will surely earn it back in new tax revenues, because economic studies show … oh wait.
  • Some billionaire in St. Louis thinks the city should have an NBA team, and some writer for something called the St. Louis American thinks the city should try to steal the New Orleans Pelicans. Now let us never speak of this again.

Friday roundup: Long Island residents yell at cloud over Isles arena, Calgary forgets to include arena in arena district plan, plus a reader puzzle!

It’s Friday (again, already) and you know what that means:

  • New York State’s Empire State Development agency held a series of three public hearings on the plan to build an Islanders arena on public land near Belmont Park racetrack (which the team would be getting at as much as a $300 million discount), and the response was decidedly unenthused: Speakers at the first hearing Tuesday “opposed to the project outnumbered those in favor of the plan by about 40 to one,” reports Long Island Business News, with State Sen. Todd Kaminsky joining residents in worrying that the arena will bring waves of new auto traffic to the town of Elmont, that there’s no real plan for train service to the arena, and that there’s no provision for community benefits to neighbors. Also a member of the Floral Park Police Department worried that the need for police staffing and more crowded roads would strain emergency services. Empire State Development, which is not a public agency but a quasi-public corporation run by the state, is expected to take all of this feedback and use it to draft an environmental impact statement for the project, which if history is any guide will just include some clauses saying “yeah, it’ll be bad for traffic” without suggesting any ways to fix it. I still want to see this plan from the Long Island Rail Road for how to extend full-time train service there, since it should involve exciting new ideas about the nature of physical reality.
  • Meanwhile in Phoenix, the final of five public hearings was held on that city’s $168 million Suns renovation plan, and “out of nine public comments, three involved questions, five voiced support and one was against the deal,” according to KJZZ, so clearly public ferment isn’t quite at such a high boil there. One thing I’d missed previously: The city claims that if it doesn’t do the renovations now with some contribution ($70 million) from Suns owner Robert Sarver, an arbitrator could interpret an “obsolescence clause” in the Suns’ lease to force the city to make the renovations on its own dime. I can’t find the Suns’ actual lease, but I think this just means that Sarver can get out of his lease early if an arbitrator determines the arena is obsolete [UPDATE: a helpful reader directed me to the appropriate lease document, and that is indeed exactly what it means], and he can already opt out of his lease in 2022, it’s pretty meaningless, albeit probably more of the “information” that helps convince people this is a good deal when they hear it. (Also important breaking news: A renovated Suns arena will save puppies! Quick, somebody take a new poll.)
  • Speaking of leases, the Los Angeles Angels are expected to sign a one-year extension on theirs with Anaheim, through 2020, while they negotiate a longer-term deal. It’s sort of tempting to wish that new Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu would have played hardball here — sign a long-term deal now or you can go play in the street when your lease runs out, like the Oakland Raiders — but I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt in his negotiating plans. Though if this gives Angels owner Arte Moreno time to drum up some alternate city plans (or even vague threats a la Tustin) just in time to threaten Anaheim with them before the lease extension runs out, I reserve the right to say “I told you so.”
  • The Calgary Planning Commission issued a comprehensive plan for a new entertainment district around the site of the Flames‘ Saddledome, but forgot to include either the Saddledome or a new arena in it. No, really, they forgot, according to city councillor Evan Woolley: “It should’ve been identified in this document. It absolutely should have. Hopefully those amendments and edits will be made as they bring this forward to council.” The 244-page document (it’s not as impressive as it sounds, most of them are just full-page photos of people riding bicycles and the like) also neglects to include any financial details, beyond saying the district would be “substantially” funded by siphoning off new property taxes, “substantially” being one of those favored weasel words that can mean anything from “everything” to “some.” Hopefully that’ll be clarified as this is brought forward to council, too, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.
  • Here is a Raleigh News & Observer article reporting that the Carolina Hurricanes arena has had a $4 billion “economic impact” on the region over 20 years, citing entirely the arena authority that is seeking $200 million to $300 million in public money for upgrades to the place. No attempt to contact any other economists on whether “economic impact” is a bullshit term (it is) or even what they thought of the author of the report, UNC-Charlotte economics professor John Connaughton, who once said he “questions the sincerity” of any economist who doesn’t find a positive impact from sports venues. Actually, even that quote would have been good to include in the N&O article, so readers could have a sense of the bona fides of the guy who came up with this $4 billion figure. But why take time for journalism when you can get just as many clicks for stenography?
  • The San Francisco Giants‘ stadium has another new name, which just happens to be the same as the old new name of the basketball arena the Warriors are leaving across the bay, and I’m officially giving up on trying to keep track of any of this. Hey, Paul Lukas, when are you issuing “I’m Still Calling It Pac Bell” t-shirts?
  • Indy Eleven, the USL team that really really wants somebody to build it a new stadium so it can (maybe) join MLS, still really really wants somebody to build it a new stadium, and hotels, office and retail space, an underground parking structure, and apartments, all paid for via “[Capital Improvement Board president Melina] Kennedy wasn’t available to discuss the proposed financial structure of the project.” It would definitely involve kicking back future property taxes from the development (i.e., tax increment financing), though, so maybe Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir is hoping that by generating more property taxes that his development team then wouldn’t pay but instead use to pay off his own stadium costs, that would look better, somehow? I mean, he did promise to keep asking, so at least he’s a man of his word.
  • “At some point in time, there’s going to have to be a stadium solution,” declared the president of a pro sports team that plays in a stadium that just turned 23 years old. “If we don’t start thinking about it, we’ll wake up one day and have a stadium that’s not meeting the needs of the fans or the community.” Want to try to guess which team? “All of them” is not an acceptable answer! (Click here for this week’s puzzle solution.)

Friday roundup: Buffalo saber-rattling, Edmonton parking fee shortfall, Chicago music venues go to war against soccer plans

And in other news of the week:

  • This was actually last week, but I missed it then: Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has led the city council in voting to conduct a new appraisal of the Angel Stadium property as Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno prepares to opt out of his team’s lease next year. Councilmember Kris Murray, one of the two no votes, argued that this was tantamount to telling the Angels to leave; Tait replied that knowing how much the land was worth would be crucial to any stadium negotiations the incoming mayor will have with Moreno. The Gang of Four is going to miss Tom Tait.
  • The owners of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres have hired consultants CAA ICON and architecture firm Populous to “give us options” for renovating or replacing the teams’ existing venues. This is not necessarily the first step toward demanding new buildings, but it’s more of a step than the Pegulas have taken thus far, so certainly bears watching.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been giving away unused tickets for free to their season ticket holders, to try to fill up the seats at their underattended games. Finally something that Los Angeles Chargers fans can point and laugh at! Both of them!
  • The $8.7 million a year that Edmonton was projecting to bring in from parking fees outside the Oilers‘ new arena turns out to be somewhat less: just $2.5 million a year, leaving the city with a roughly $57 million hole in its arena budget. City councillor Jon Dziadyk immediately leaped into action, blaming the reduced parking fees on people not wanting to drive downtown because there are too many bike lanes.
  • Hey, remember that minor-league soccer stadium a major Chicago developer wanted to build as part of a major Chicago development, originally pegged to luring Amazon to town but now with a life of its own? Turns out the whole thing would be funded by tax increment financing kickbacks, and would include three to five new concert venues to be run by the entertainment giant Live Nation that local concert venue operators say would drive their non-subsidized clubs out of business. The Chicago Tribune reports that the fledgling Chicago Independent Venue League “already had its new logo, a peregrine falcon wrapped with a snake, printed on black tee-shirts,” which honestly is going to be tough for any soccer team to top.

Friday roundup: Tampa won’t divert road money to Rays stadium (probably), Columbus may spend $100m on Crew stadium, Anaheim signs Ducks lease extension as new mayor vows to placate Angels

You know who the real turkeys are this week? Nah, my heart isn’t in making Thanksgiving puns, just read the news, folks:

  • Three of seven Hillsborough County commissioners have promised that a new sales tax for transportation projects won’t mean diverting money from the existing transportation project to, say, a Tampa Bay Rays stadium, which the mathematically inclined will notice isn’t actually a majority of the county board. It’s still not super likely that the county will try to raid transportation funds to pay for a stadium, unless maybe it’s for transportation costs related to one, and there’s still several hundred million dollars in construction costs unaccounted for, but anyway it’s worth keeping at least half an eye on as we head toward the team’s December 31 lease opt-out deadline.
  • A paid consultant working on a new downtown arena for Saskatoon says it could have a “catalytic effect,” because of course he does, really, Global News, you ran an entire article that’s just interviewing one guy employed on the project? For this you want me to disable my ad blocker?
  • Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reports that “a person with knowledge of the deal to keep Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in that city” says the new owners will pay $150 million for the franchise and spend $150 million toward a new downtown stadium, while “the public would foot the other $100 million.” Nobody else seems to be reporting on this, so maybe we should wait to be sure that Ozanian didn’t get his plus and minus signs mixed up again.
  • The Atlantic’s Rick Paulas suggests that we end stadium extortion by forcing pro sports leagues to massively expand and then institute promotion and relegation, which would sort of work, if there were an easy way to accomplish this through antitrust legislation, which you’d think if Congress could manage that they could manage the much more straightforward measure of taxing sports subsidies out of existence, but who knows, maybe a “market-based” solution would go over better in these times, sure, what the hell. “Of course, cities could also elect leadership that will defend them against bad deals,” notes Paulas, which isn’t a bad idea either.
  • Anaheim has signed a lease extension to keep the Ducks in town through 2048, involving the city selling the team 16 acres of land for $10 million — which if the stymied Angels deal is any guide would probably be a small discount, though Anaheim officials claim it’s market value — but the city will get a cut of arena profits after the first $6 million a year instead of the first $12 million, a threshold that’s never been hit. There are a lot of (small) moving pieces here, but I’m willing to say this is probably not too bad a deal, especially compared to some of the much, much worse lease extensions that cities have agreed to. Next is to to see about getting Angels owner Arte Moreno to accept the same logic, now that newly elected mayor Harry Sidhu is vowing to change “the hostile political environment in Anaheim” and “keep the Angels in Anaheim where they belong,” okay, Anaheim residents are probably going to have to settle for just a good Ducks deal.
  • Atlanta Falcons COO Greg Beadles tells NPR it’s not team owner greed that causes stadium food prices to be so high, it’s just that after teams force concessions companies to bid as high as possible for stadium contracts, the only way they can make money is to charge through the nose for food! Anyway, NPR gets busy talking to fans at a Falcons game about whether they’re happy the team lowered its food prices, and they’re happy about it, so no time to fact-check whether team execs’ statements make any damn sense. Free refills on soda, woohoo!

Angels opt out of stadium lease, prepare to threaten to make themselves homeless in 2020

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has opted out of his stadium lease, meaning the team is free to leave Anaheim after the 2019 season. This is very interesting, though probably not in the way that you might at first assume.

First off, the Angels are almost certainly not going to leave Anaheim after next season, if for no other reason that there’s nowhere to go. None of the other MLB-less options (Montreal, Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, etc.) are appealing demographically compared to Orange County; and it would take way more than a year and a half to get even a temporary stadium ready elsewhere in Southern California. (Talks about a new stadium in nearby Tustin collapsed in 2014 after Tustin officials realized how crazy much it would cost.) The only reason Moreno pulled the trigger now, team officials made clear, was that this was the only window the team had for opting out and renegotiating its lease, since the team’s lease said it was either yesterday or wait till 2028.

Just last year, though, Moreno had said that he wouldn’t trigger the opt-out now. So what changed?

“We’ll sit down with the new mayor and city council,” [Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey] said. “We also are going to look at all our options.”

Ah yes, the new mayor. Tom Tait, who has been the main obstacle to giving Moreno a whole mess of land that he can develop and use the proceeds to renovate his current stadium, is term-limited out after this year. So presumably the Angels owner smelled a better negotiating environment around the corner with a new mayor (and three new councilmembers) and figured he’d roll the dice.

That new mayor and council, though, would be well-advised to consider that Moreno isn’t in all that great a negotiating position himself. In opting out, he’s left himself without a guaranteed place to play in 2020, which means Anaheim elected officials would be fully within their rights to say, “How about you pay us more, and sign a lease extension to boot? If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are some lovely high school ballfields you can play on the season after next.”

That almost certainly won’t happen, if only because the “Anaheim council tells Angels to move out” headlines would look terrible. (Though maybe less terrible if the Angels finish in fourth place again.) But it is important to remember that lease leverage works both ways, and as we’re seeing with the Oakland Raiders mess, it’s not always easy for a team owner to follow through on threats to take his ball and go home. Garvey said yesterday that “we do have options” for a new home, but wouldn’t elaborate, which is a pretty transparent bluff after the Tustin debacle.

Anyway, the council has no one to blame for this opt-out but themselves, since they (or their predecessors, I guess) gifted Moreno with this option back in 2013 in exchange for absolutely nothing. One hopes at least they won’t double down on the stupid by negotiating themselves into a corner the minute the team owner points a gun at his own head and says, “Give me a new stadium or I’ll shoot!” It’s going to be a very interesting day after election day in Anaheim.

Angels owner says team will stay through 2029, was totally pwned by Anaheim mayor

This was hinted at last September, but Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has officially thrown in the towel on using his opt-out clause on his lease at Anaheim Stadium, telling reporters that his team will remain there at least through 2029:

”It’s going to take some time to get ourselves prepared to see which direction we’re going to go,” Moreno said of the possibility of building a new ballpark. ”We have flexibility, but acquiring land and getting a proper partner and getting prepared in California is a three-, four-year process.”

This can only be seen as a major victory for Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (and his constituents), who blocked attempts by Moreno to threaten his way into a major stadium renovation subsidy. The timetable of events, you will recall: The Anaheim council gifted Moreno with a 2019 opt-out for no damn reason, then the owner demanded a whole bunch of free land to compensate for him doing renovations on his own behalf, then Tait conducted an appraisal that pointed out that the land was worth nearly $100 million more than the renovations, then Moreno threatened to move to an air base in Tustin, then nobody in Tustin thought that was a good idea, then Moreno slunk back to Anaheim.

This is exactly how it should work: If a team waves around move threats, city leaders should say, “Yeah, get back to us when you have a real offer, and maybe we’ll talk.” And then if the owner is just bluffing, you get away without having to pay him $250 million in taxpayer cash.

Not that Anaheim Stadium won’t ever need renovations (though recall that it just had renovations 20 years ago, which isn’t a lifetime no matter what some other teams may think). But now both Moreno and Anaheim can sit down and figure out what it makes sense for each side to spend on them, if anything, without worrying about the pretend threat that the owner is going to move to an invisible stadium elsewhere in SoCal or move out of the nation’s second-biggest media market entirely. All of which could have been the case all along if the council hadn’t been daft enough to hand out that lease opt-out clause, but at least victory has been grasped from the jaws of defeat for once.

Angels owner okays development next to stadium, doesn’t even have to sue anybody first

After complaining about the new development project proposed for next door and threatening to sue to stop it, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno gave his blessing to LT Global’s mixed-use project this week. This happened because they were … bought off? I’m going with bought off:

“We are pleased that LT Global worked with us in a timely and collaborative effort to address the impacts of their development on our fan experience,” Angels President John Carpino said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the city to finalize details on important transportation improvements for the Platinum Triangle in the coming weeks.”

LT Global spokesman Steve Greyshock wouldn’t elaborate on how the company and the Angels were able to amicably resolve their differences but did say the company looks forward to working with the team.

“We spoke. It was neighbors talking with neighbors,” Greyshock said. “They had some operational concerns, but overall the goal is to have a long, constructive relationship with the Angels.”

That’s playing it extremely close to the vest in terms of what the price was for the Angels ownership’s cooperation — it could have been anything from cash to a parking-sharing agreement to promising to buy the Angels’ stock of leftover Josh Hamilton jerseys — but the point is, they worked it out. And without Moreno being able to demand that Anaheim give him a huge swath of development rights for cheap, as was his original plan.

In all, Moreno seems to be following a new tactic of playing good cop, backing away from threats to opt out of his lease early and reopening lease extension talks with Anaheim. This is what you can make happen when you have a mayor who is a tough negotiator, a team that reaps huge benefits from playing in a major metro area, and city officials in other nearby locales also not willing to throw money at a stadium. Not saying it’ll work every time, but it is a little glimpse into a happier world where move threats are met with “Ha, yeah, that’s a good one” rather than “How many zeroes should we put on the check, Mr. Moreno?”

Exec says Angels could leave Anaheim in 2029, maybe hopes new metropolis has arisen by then

Los Angeles Angels president John Carpino spoke out about the  over development rights to the team’s Anaheim stadium parking lot yesterday, and said if things can’t be worked out the team might just leave — 13 years from now.

Carpino spoke after the developer of a large-scale project next to Angel Stadium agreed Tuesday to postpone an Anaheim City Council vote on the project for three weeks, in the hope of resolving the team’s objections to the development…

Although the Angels’ current lease extends through 2029, the team can opt out no later than Oct. 16, 2018, which would terminate the lease after the 2019 season.

Carpino said the Angels have three options: move, renovate Angel Stadium, or play out the current lease.

So… that doesn’t actually quite make sense as written. What the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin appears to be trying to say is that the Angels may not use the opt-out clause in their lease in two seasons, in which case their next opportunity to leave Anaheim would be in 2029. It’s not entirely clear whether that’s meant to be a promise or a threat, but there it is.

Of course, the reason that Angels owner Arte Moreno might not use the opt-out clause is because he has nowhere to go that’s still in the super-lucrative Los Angeles (plus Orange County) market, especially since his attempts to get a stadium out of Tustin went nowhere. That’s not likely to change by 2029 — yeah, Las Vegas is growing, but not that fast — so this would seem to be a coded admission of “Yeah, we’re stuck here whether we like it or not, thanks to the SoCal cable riches.” I mean, maybe by 2029 cable has ceased to exist and some new MLB model makes it feasible for teams to play in places like Green Bay, like the NFL’s does? Maybe by then Halifax has become bustling with American climate refugees? Or maybe Moreno has really decided he’ll settle for selling another 13 years worth of Mike Trout jerseys and figure out the whole stadium thing later. If so, well played, Tom Tait.