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Long Beach facing $1.1bn price tag for Angels pursuit

Documents have emerged suggesting that Long Beach’s attempts to attract Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Los Angeles Angels to a new ballpark could cost the city more than $1.1bn (£854.9m/€983.5m).

In February, it emerged that officials in Long Beach had approached the Angels over a possible relocation to the city, where the franchise would play at a new waterfront stadium. Further details about this effort have now been disclosed in more than 500 pages of documents released through public records requests from local media organisations.

One of these organisations, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, said a new ballpark on a proposed 13-acre downtown site would cost $900m, with the cost pushed to around $1.1bn after interest through a variety of bond options to finance the project.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Long Beach contacted the Angels in 2014, as the team held talks with the city of Tustin about a possible move there, and met with the Angels again in 2017. The Times added that Long Beach sent an initial proposal to the Angels on March 22 and a revised offer on May 3.

Specific details were not disclosed, beyond a proposal for a waterfront development that would include a stadium, a “dynamic entertainment destination” and housing “for a diversity of current and future Long Beach residents.”

The Press-Telegram noted that Long Beach would have multiple challenges beyond the stadium, including community impact and gaining approval from the California Coastal Commission. Parking would also be an issue in the downtown area, with the provision of 3,500 new spaces likely to cost $105m alone.

“As part of our efforts to create a downtown waterfront development plan, the city of Long Beach is exploring the feasibility of a downtown sports venue on the Convention Center parking lot,” city officials said in a statement provided to the Press-Telegram. “This effort remains in the very early stages and the city has approached the Angels to express our interest and discuss the possibilities of this opportunity.”

The Angels have played at Angel Stadium (pictured) in Anaheim since 1966. The City of Anaheim in January reached an agreement for the Angels to continue playing at the city-owned Angel Stadium until 2020. Anaheim City Council said the 14-month extension gave it time to discuss a potential long-term lease with the Angels.

Responding to Long Beach’s efforts, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said: “For any city starting from scratch, we certainly understand the ambition but do not envy the monumental task presented by financing, government approvals, traffic planning and environmental review.

“Anaheim has an incredible advantage as the best stadium site in Southern California with great freeway access, integrated public transit, easy in-and-out and a proven experience for fans for more than 50 years now. And it will be for the next 50 years.”

Image: Visit Anaheim