Angel Stadium deal is no home run for Anaheim: Tom Daly, Lou Correa and Tom Tait

By:  Tom Daly, Lou Correa and Tom Tait

The Angel Stadium deal doesn’t come close to a home run. And for Anaheim residents, the lack of transparency in the run-up to last week’s City Council approval of the deal might feel like the city dropped the ball.

Last Wednesday – at nearly 2 a.m. – the City Council voted 5-2 to approve a revised deal to sell the stadium and the surrounding land for $150 million in cash to SRB Management, a company led by the Angels’ owner Arte Moreno.   Adding insult to injury, the City of Anaheim won’t see this money for at least 5 years, and won’t receive the full, highly touted “community benefits” for decades.

The initial sales price for the 150-acre site was $325 million. But the council majority, including Mayor Harry Sidhu, apparently had no qualms about approving a sale for less than half that amount.  Anaheim residents are now subsidizing Arte Moreno’s company for 466 units of affordable housing (cost: $123 million) and a seven-acre park ($46 million).

This is a one-sided deal lacking transparency. Negotiations occurred behind closed doors, with little to no public input. Shrouded in secrecy, the deal lacked proper vetting, with too many questions asked by community stakeholders left unanswered.

For people who live outside of Anaheim, this deal looks like a sad joke of self-inflicted bumbling and false choices. It does them no financial harm. But for Anaheim residents – who own the valuable stadium property – this is a massive, historic giveaway costing at least $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in the city.

In recent years, the alteration of provisions of the Angels’ lease occurred based on a desire to undervalue the property. Meanwhile, manipulation of the city-sponsored appraisal of value helped lower the cost to the buyer. The completion of an independent appraisal, and allowing this appraisal to be publicized, should have been part of the process – but weren’t.

More important, why are Anaheim taxpayers reimbursing $169 million to the buyer/developer in so-called “credits” for a park and affordable housing?

Normally, the cost of developing housing, along with amenities such as parks, are the responsibility of the developer.  Under the deal approved by the council, Anaheim residents will bear the cost of a community benefit – a park – that will increase the value of the property owned by SRB Management.

It’s our firm belief – backed by the opinions of professional experts in real estate and city finance – that this deal unnecessarily gives away hundreds of millions of dollars that belong to Anaheim taxpayers.

Ultimately, the matter may be settled in court. A lawsuit filed by a group of Anaheim residents accuses the city council of violating state open meeting law by conducting meetings on the land sale in private. The suit seeks to overturn the deal and force the city to start the entire process over – in public, where it should have started.

Tom Daly represents the 69th District in the California Assembly. Lou Correa represents the 46th District in the House of Representatives. Tom Tait is a former mayor of Anaheim.