The $320m sale of Los Angeles Angels’ Angel Stadium site has been declared illegal by California officials in a move that could bring the Major League Baseball (MLB) team’s future in Anaheim into question.
Angel Stadium and 150 acres of surrounding land were to be sold by Anaheim City Council to a company owned by Angels owner Arte Moreno, SRB Management, in a deal struck in 2019. The land was to be used for some new housing and the development of a new 45,000-seat stadium, or redevelopment of Angel Stadium, in a scheme that would ensure the team would stay in the city until at least 2050.
However, that agreement has now been vetoed by California’s state housing agency, which has issued a notice of violation that contends that the city has violated the Surplus Land Act. Under the terms of that legislation, public land made available for sale should first be offered to affordable housing developers.
Anaheim officials have been given 60 days to redo the deal or make the land available to interested bidders.
Anaheim continues to maintain that the Surplus Land Act does not apply to the stadium site because it is covered by an existing, exclusive, long-term lease for baseball through to 2029 with extensions through to 2038.
However, the city and SRB Management had sought to appease the California Department of Housing and Community Development by exploring the possibility of a 25% increase in the number of affordable homes within the project.
“We are surprised, disappointed and frustrated with the state’s current stance, which comes after months of positive, collaborative talks focused on bringing even more affordable housing to our city sooner than planned,” said a spokesman for the city of Anaheim.
“We stand by our stadium plan and the benefits it will bring to our city. This would be the largest single expansion of affordable housing in Anaheim’s history, keep the Angels in our city and bring revenue from development to serve residents. We welcome continued talks given the importance of this to our city and state.”
The Angels have played in Anaheim since 1966. With the 2019 agreement, the team committed to play at Angel Stadium, or any replacement stadium in Anaheim, for the next 30 years or more. The commitment agreement, between the city and Angels Baseball, precluded relocation of the team to another city, an issue that came up in 2014 when the Angels looked at Los Angeles, Carson, Irvine and Tustin, and in 2018 when the team looked at Long Beach.
The City of Anaheim built what is today Angel Stadium of Anaheim in 1966, and has owned it since. The sale was to end 50-plus years of city stadium ownership and put any future maintenance, renovation or stadium construction costs solely in the hands of SRB Management.