Anaheim City Council has voted to void an agreement to sell Angel Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels, amid a public corruption investigation into the transaction.
Earlier this week, Mayor of Anaheim Harry Sidhu resigned from his role after it had emerged last week that the $320m (£255m/€300m) sale of the stadium had been put on hold while an investigation is carried out.
Court documents cited by the Los Angeles Times newspaper claim that Sidhu is accused of soliciting a donation of approximately $1m to his re-election campaign as the City of Anaheim discussed the sale of the stadium and surrounding land to SRB Management, the company of Angels owner Arte Moreno. It has since transpired that the original $320m comprised only $150m in cash, while plans for affordable housing were cut considerably.
In a statement, Anaheim City Council said its vote to void the agreement comes after a notice of a federal investigation into Sidhu, stemming from “actions he may have taken related to the stadium site proposal”.
Mayor Pro Tem Trever O’Neil said: “The stadium proposal was evaluated and approved on its merits. However knowing that there may have been an element of corruption that brought the final product to us, we cannot move forward in good conscience.”
SRB Management has been notified of the council’s decision via a letter, which said the decision has been taken “in the best interests of the Angels and the residents of Anaheim”.
A statement from the council continued: “The council action would also start a legal process that will involve filing a motion for declaratory judgment in Orange County Superior Court based on concerns of conflict of interest and that the transaction was not at arm’s length.
“The council action also ends a process that started with 2019 negotiations and resulted in a set of agreements approved in September and October 2020. The agreements had called for selling the city-owned stadium and 151 acres of land for $320m, paid partly in cash and partly as affordable housing and a park built on the stadium site.”
The council had been expected to vote on the sale of the Angel Stadium in June after significant changes were announced last month. It had been claimed that the agreement would resolve all issues with the stadium site sale and the state’s Surplus Land Act.
The council’s decision to void the agreement will mean that the City of Anaheim will no longer take action to sell the stadium and develop the surrounding land as previously approved. A lease for the Angels to continue playing at Angel Stadium will run until 2029, with three three-year extensions until 2038.
The Angels have played in Anaheim since 1966. The City of Anaheim built what is today Angel Stadium of Anaheim in 1966, and has owned it since.
The sale would 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. The plan, which would keep the Angels in Anaheim until at least 2050, also calls for a renovated Angel Stadium, or a new 45,000-seat stadium.