Long Beach resumes courtship of Angels

The City of Long Beach has restarted its efforts to attract the Los Angeles Angels to a potential new waterfront ballpark following the collapse of a deal for the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise’s current home, Angel Stadium.

Anaheim City Council on Wednesday voted to void an agreement to sell Angel Stadium 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 (pictured) had been put on hold while an investigation is carried out.

Court documents 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 deal comprised only $150m in cash, while plans for affordable housing were cut considerably.

Prior to striking the now seemingly doomed deal with Anaheim, the Angels had weighed up the possibility of a new stadium in Long Beach. The City of Long Beach has now resurrected these efforts, following this week’s developments.

A City statement, reported by the Los Angeles Times, read: “In February 2019, Long Beach began preliminary discussions on the potential for a waterfront stadium in Long Beach. Those initial discussions came to a conclusion in December 2019 when the Angels chose to enter exclusive negotiations with the City of Anaheim.

“The City of Long Beach has long sought to activate the 13-acre Elephant Lot parcel next to the Convention Center for a project that can bring significant community benefit, additional activation of the downtown waterfront and benefits to the coastal region.

“All documents from those initial negotiations have been made public, and no negotiations have continued since those initial discussions. If the Angels are interested in continuing those initial discussions, Long Beach would reengage in those discussions and seek direction from the City Council.”

The original proposal would have involved demolition of the Long Beach Arena. At the time, it was reported that a new ballpark would cost $900m, with the cost pushed to around $1.1bn after interest through a variety of bond options to finance the project.

The City of Anaheim in June 2020 unveiled wide-ranging plans to transform the area around Angel Stadium into a mixed-use development under the ‘The Big A: 2050’ banner. Last month’s approval of the deal followed unsuccessful attempts in 2013-14 and in 2016 to secure baseball’s long-term future in Anaheim, as well as development around the stadium.

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 Angels’ current lease in Anaheim expires in 2029, with options to extend through 2038.

Following Wednesday’s developments, Marie Garvey, a spokesperson for Moreno and SRB Management, said: “We are disappointed by Anaheim City Council’s action… regarding the stadium land sale. Since the beginning, we have negotiated in good faith, which resulted in a fair deal. We are currently exploring all of our options.”

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