Weekend Open Thread: On the Angels, Joining Joanne and Dissecting Dan


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Angels draft lease

Preparations for the final terms of the Angels lease are now beginning!

Yes, of course the Weekend Open Thread this week is going to be on the topic of the Stadium Lot giveaway (mostly to Arte Moreno directly, some to the Angels.)  As I’m trying to follow the story in my spare time; I can’t miss an opportunity to cover it whenever I write.  Two documents are on the agenda for today:

(1) Press Release from Take Back Anaheim

Joanne Sosa (whose contact information I’m omitting here, but I’ll send it to individuals who seem unlikely to abuse it at the e-mail address associated with their account) of Take Back Anaheim wants you to know something:

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

September 6, 2013

Anaheim, California

PRESS CONFERENCE ON ANGELS STADIUM GIVEAWAY

Anaheim community groups, businesses, activists and individuals will gather for a press conference in opposition to the city council’s vote to extend the Angels’ current lease and memorandum of understanding.  The conference will be held on Thursday, September 12, 2013, at 10:00 am, at the steps of city hall. 

The MOU is an agreement on the basic terms. Angels owner Arte Moreno would lease more than 150 acres of land at $1 annually for 66 years. He could develop the area and use its revenue to make an estimated $130 million to $150 million in renovations to the 47-year-old stadium. He could also keep the development’s tax revenue.  Another crucial point is the team name. Under a current lease proposal, the team could drop “Anaheim” from its name. Prior city evaluations list the property’s land worth to be $300-$400 million.  This does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars the city would lose in potential transient occupancy tax (TOT) on any hotel development or sales tax revenue which could all go to Arte Moreno and the Angels instead of the city’s general fund.

Anaheim taxpayers have become increasingly angry and vocal at the current council majority’s favoritism to wealthy businesses over the needs of residents and neighborhoods.  “Who is standing up for us, the people of Anaheim?”, said Donna Acevedo, lifetime resident of the city.  Take Back Anaheim was created after the council gave $158 million of taxpayer dollars to one wealthy developer to build two hotels.

The only think I’d point out — which makes the situation worse (unless you’re Arte Moreno) — is that the $130-150 million in renovations is over the course of 20 years.  So, yeah, he’ll have more than enough revenue to cover that.

Some people are still unclear on the concept, though.  For example, this guy:

(2) I Hope That Dan C. Isn’t Getting Paid for This Flackery

You can copy much more than four paragraphs from an article if you’re giving each of them a detailed critique.  So, here’s a big hunk of Dan C.’s latest from the Liberal OC — with his direct language in Republican ANGELS red.  I’m assuming that you have on your hip waders.

 [T]he only reason that particular part of Anaheim (where the stadium is off the 57 freeway) is valuable …  is because of a certain tenant, namely the Angels.  Should they move, the value of that land simply drops.  And with it, that valuable real estate becomes a big empty parking lot for most of the year.  The Forum in Inglewood was valuable real estate too until the Lakers and Kings left.  When was the last time you were there?  And Staples is such a nice facility.

No, not really.  First of all, Moreno is — or at least was, until the Council let him up off of the mate — not likely to move.  He couldn’t move outside of the general area without losing his extremely lucrative contract with Fox Sports.  If he moved closer to LA itself, the Dodgers may be in a position to block it.  (Remember: unlike the NFL in its dealings with Al Davis, baseball has an anti-trust exemption — and the owners agree to allow the Commissioner to exert king-like powers “for the good of the game.”)  So while Moreno may be able to move out of the area — he’d likely create a gap into which any one of a number of other teams would likely move.  (Would we get used to rooting for the Anaheim Blue Jays or Pirates or Brewers or Royals?  Quickly.)

Dan also seems not to understand that the valuable real-estate of Angels Stadium holds a lot of events and could hold a lot more.  Unless Inglewood, deep in a low-income area where, let’s be honest, a lot of people are afraid to drive, Angels Stadium is located in the functional middle (due to those three freeways) of a very wealthy county.  Do you think that we could get people to attend events there?  Probably worth a try, especially given that Anaheim as owner of this property might actually make more from even ONE such event a year than it would from an entire year under this proposed lease.  But, again, we would not likely to have to worry about a stadium without baseball.  (Of course, we could probably make a killing with it for soccer.) 

By giving Angels owner Arte Moreno the rights to the land surrounding Anaheim Stadium, the city council has effectively given him his new stadium location from which a new stadium can replace the aging Angels Stadium, relieve Anaheim of $130 to $150 million in renovation costs while creating a lot of union and non-union construction jobs.  The city can then get out of the business of managing a stadium and start paying more attention to parks, business development and public safety.

Oh, man.  (1) No, actually, they haven’t given him a new stadium location, unless that was one of the proposed constructions that was cleared in the CEQA report.  (Our crack media doesn’t seem to have noticed this.)  (2) And guess what — Anaheim doesn’t HAVE to pay for those renovation costs right now.  (3) As for the construction jobs — tell us more how good those non-union construction jobs are?  (4) No, the city can’t start paying more attention to parks and stuff if it doesn’t have the revenue to do so –  and this very parcel is a major part of Anaheim’s real assets, the rights to which it is giving away for 2/3 of a century or more.

Arte’s big ticket free agents show he’s willing to spend money to create a winner. And while the result on the field isn’t what Angels fans want, you can’t fault the owner for going after the elite free agents (my opinion: time for a new manager).

Arte had the best deal in baseball from the previous lousy lease with subservient Anaheim politicians — so he’s had that money to spend.  This one is far worse.

I’ve read the out of breath posts in the Orange Juice Blog and in Save Anaheim.

Note to readers: you won’t be out of breath if you don’t move your lips when you read.

Leave it to Irvine’s Bill Shankin at the LA Times to summarize what the negotiations mean from the perspective of the Angels. From the story:

The council vote authorizes negotiations based on deal points that include the team calling itself the Los Angeles Angels and dropping the “of Anaheim” suffix.

The Angels also would extend their lease through 2036 — and possibly as long as 2057 — in exchange for development rights to the parking lots around the stadium.

The stadium needs $130 million to $150 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years, according to a city report. That estimate accounts solely for infrastructure — electrical maintenance and upgrades, concrete repairs, waterproofing and such—– at the stadium.

The Angels would pay all of that cost and would pay above and beyond for any improvements that would generate additional revenue for the team, for example, more luxury seating.

Let’s stop right there.  Who pays the costs for all this under the existing Giveaway Jr. lease?  The Angels do.  So cooing about how the Angels would do this under the new lease misses the point that they’re already obliged to do this — unless they want to move.

The total costs might be so substantial, Black said, Moreno might well consider razing Angel Stadium and building a new one on the adjacent parking lot.

With no cost for land acquisition, Black said Moreno could build a new ballpark for $450 million to $500 million. Carpino said that could be an option.

So, at that point, Moreno owns the ballpark built in the middle of what he could decide to call “Morenoville” and Anaheim doesn’t.  That should make future negotiations with him much easier — especially because he holds onto the parking lot rights, even if he moves the team, until around 2080.  (Hey, do you think another team — baseball, soccer, or football — would be willing to move here if Moreno has a chokehold over their parking lot?  If you do, bless your heart.)

The consultants for the city maintain Moreno has the means to build a stadium somewhere else.  But if he doesn’t need to buy the land somewhere else, he can build right next to Angels Stadium for a lot less money and keep the team here.  For a kid who grew up in New York, I always knew the California Angels played in Anaheim.  It doesn’t matter if they have Los Angeles or Anaheim or California associated with their name.  What does matter is the Angels play here and not someone else in So Cal.

What matters is the total quality of life in the area — which includes the fiscal soundness of Anaheim.  If Dan C. wants to organize Irvine and other cities to give money to the City of Anaheim so that they’ll keep the Angels here, he’d better get cracking.  Again, like the City’s consultants, Dan’s apparent idea of negotiations is to start out by saying “look, the only important thing here is that you agree to stay.”  That’s called “maintaining leverage.”

I like having the Angels a short drive away.  If they move to Irvine, even better.  They can move to other cities in Southern California.  It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see them in Irvine, Near Yorba Linda/Brea, Long Beach or Mission Viejo.  And putting up a stadium once a site is selected can go pretty quickly (see how fast the Patriot’s build Gillette Stadium to replace aging Foxboro Stadium).

And if they leave, and for some reason another team doesn’t want to come in, then we can sell the land for someone to build a university, a hospital, an Irvine-style corporate campus, or any number of other things that actually would be lucrative to the City, because it has such a great location.

So for the hand ringing [sic] of Jason Young, Greg Diamond, and Vern Nelson, a simple question: when was the last time any one of you went to an Angels game?  From theold photos of the Stadium you’re using in your posts, I’ll guess it’s been years if ever.  Call me fellas; you have my cell.  I have a list of about 5 questions.  Basic stuff.  I bet you won’t have a clue on the answer, nor can you answer them in seconds without having to use Google.

I’m just going to copy the response to Dan C. that I left in LOC:

The notion that one has a clearer idea as to whether this deal is a giveaway or not if one has recently attended an Angels’ game is — I’m sorry that there’s no better word for it — really stupid. Do you have an opinion on bombing Syria? When’s the last time you’ve been to Syria? Do you have an opinion on the City of Bell pensions? When’s the last time you’ve been to Bell’s City Hall?  Show more self-respect than that when you write.

I’ll tell you one thing that does help, though: when’s the last time that you’ve been to an Anaheim City Council meeting when they’re in the midst of a giveaway? THAT’s a hell of a lot more relevant than having seen the rally money on the big screen in person.

If you were a real friend to Jordan Brandman, you would stop enabling him and start concentrating on how to keep him out of jail. Desperate PR will only help him so much — and it’s less than his being the only Democrat involved in a money scandal, and therefore the perfect sacrificial lamb, will hurt him.

Dan mentioned his willingness to set Jordan on fire if the need arises — or something like that.  It involved a torch.

Did the City Council go too far?  Probably.

Really?  And why is that?  Concessions means so much less unless they’re specified.

But a deal to keep the team here for up to 43 years seems to be a good one and a new stadium will create lots of labor union construction jobs and lots of new tax dollars pumping into the Anaheim coffers.

“Up to 43 years” is like “up to 43% off.”  Three years (or 3%) satisfy that claim.  And notice how “labor union construction jobs” — the standard “Business Democratic” for any proposed abomination used to be, more honestly, “labor or non-labor jobs”?  Moreno has complete control over this parcel — I wonder which one he’d choose.

As for these tax dollars “pumped into Anaheim’s coffers” — how does that work exactly?  Dan C. says that he read my articles; did he notice the stuff about Moreno keeping all of the money generated from the parcel?

There are hundreds of businesses around the stadium that would flat out die should the Angels leave.  Perhaps before we all lose our minds, we should wait to hear more from the team about what their specific plans are and might be and how they intend to work with the city that’s been so generous to them for so long.

“Hundreds,” you say?  Heck, I’ll make it easy on you.  Let’s see the names of merely one hundred ”businesses around the stadium that would flat out die should the Angels leave.”  Because, honestly, while that statement is likely untrue it doesn’t seem like it even rises to the level of being a lie.  It’s just bullshit.

All the analysis to date reflects short term thinking by people who have no idea about the business of baseball let alone how fans will react.  Let’s look at the whole story from both sides before we start jumping to conclusions.

Funny story about “short-term thinking.”  I was one of those who noticed immediately something that I think Tom Tait pointed out: the point that while under this lease Moreno could move the team by 2034 (or so), he would still control the parking lot — and thus the ability to make life miserable for any prospective new tenant for another 45 years (at minimum) after that.  Confronted with this little problem, the crack expert staff said that yeah, this would be a good thing to work out in future negotiations.

To call the people like me — who were asking for another freaking three weeks so that the public could actually look over this agreement before Anaheim promised to bargain on the basis of the MOU — “short sighted” in our thinking is amazing.  I won’t even call it “short-sighted thinking,” because that implies an ability to see at all.  You don’t need to think much if all you’re going to do is spout PR bullshit.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about this or anything else you wish, within broad bounds of decency and decorum.  No Dearthwatch this week.


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.