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Shaikin: The first two stadium deals collapsed. Why would the Angels and Anaheim try again?


The Curse of Harry Sidhu was born on May 24, 2022. That was the day the Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to void a deal that would have anchored the Angels in the city for decades and allowed its owner to build a village. urban area around Angel Stadium.

An FBI agent had claimed that Sidhu, the former mayor of Anaheim, turned over city secrets to Los Angeles in hopes of getting a million-dollar campaign contribution. The stench of corruption, even as Sidhu denied the accusation, made the deal too toxic to proceed.

The Angels lost their next 14 games, the longest losing streak in the franchise’s 63-year history. They fired their manager. They finished 33 games out of first place.

That could be fun. This Isn’t It: This is the year Harry Sidhu’s curse really starts to affect Anaheim.

On Saturday, Angels owner Arte Moreno said he planned to meet with Anaheim’s new mayor, Ashleigh Aitken, in the coming weeks. He declined to say whether he would consider a third round of stadium negotiations with a city that twice in the past decade told him it had a deal.

They have a new administration. Moreno told reporters in arizona “And we are going to work with that administration. We have been there for a long time. And we’ll see what happens.”

Moreno has all the influence, thanks to Sidhu.

Across the 57 Freeway, the owners of the Ducks are about to start building in a neighborhood surrounding the Honda Center with restaurants, shops, concert halls, parks, homes and offices. It’s a short walk down Katella Avenue from there to Angel Stadium. Angels fans might enjoy that stadium villa, even if Moreno doesn’t build anything in the Angel Stadium parking lot.

You are under no obligation to do anything, even when the city covets development and tax revenue from a parking lot that the city itself has failed to develop for over half a century. Sidhu hastily lobbied the city council to reinstate the Los Angeles lease as a Plan B if negotiations for Moreno to buy the land collapsed, but neither the mayor nor the city’s public statements shared that with Anaheim residents.

If Sidhu hadn’t offered that insurance to Los Angeles, the city would have had the hammer, because the lease would have run out. Instead, the city now faces a team that is allowed to decide whether the lease ends in 2029, 2032, 2035, or 2038, and thus empowered to restrict the city’s ability to build on the site for another 15 years.

Former Anaheim Mayor Henry Sidhu.

(Karen Tapia/Los Angeles Times)

For Anaheim, that would seem to be the worst of both worlds: the city has to wait for Moreno to decide what to do with his valuable parcel of real estate; and Moreno could still move the team, or sell it to someone else than he would.

“I can’t imagine a future in Anaheim without the Angels,” Aitken told The Times. “As a lifelong fan and season ticket holder, I believe they are an important part of our history and our city. I believe we can craft an agreement that is mutually beneficial to Anaheim residents and taxpayers and Angelenos.”

The political environment could be turbulent. In April, the city plans to hire a firm to assess the condition of the 58-year-old stadium and provide recommendations for maintenance and improvements, after which the council and the Angels could argue over who should pay the hundreds of millions in costs. .

After the collapse of the stadium deal last year, amid the FBI investigation that led to the allegations against Sidhu and the fraud convictions against the president of the Anaheim chamber of commerce, the city commissioned an independent investigation. One of the investigators told the city council last month that he suspected “more accusations It will arrive in the next few months.”

The city also faces ongoing stadium-related litigation for alleged violations of the Brown Act, which requires business of the public to be done in public. An Orange County grand jury report said the city “betrayed its constituents” through “a persistent lack of transparency and hasty decision-making in the handling of stadium ownership transactions.”

Angels owner Arte Moreno speaks to reporters at the team's spring training facility.

Angels owner Arte Moreno speaks to reporters at the team’s spring training facility in Tempe, Arizona, in 2019.

(Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

There are many complications. There would be plenty more if the city and the Angels started negotiations from scratch. Perhaps the city should put the deal that died last year back on the table, this time with transparency and with public hearings reporting back to council rather than just filling time before a predetermined vote.

As a candidate, Aitken called that deal “a crooked no-bid deal.”

However, the dead deal would have accomplished a number of the city’s goals.

The city would have been locked out of the stadium business, in which it was not making any money. The Angels would have assumed the costs of renovating the stadium or building a new one. The city would have generated a projected tax revenue of $652 million over 30 years from development, the costs of which would be borne by Moreno and/or the development partners. The Angels would have committed to playing in Anaheim through 2050. The city would have gained more than 6,000 new homes.

And, after the city agreed to sell $325 million worth of land to Moreno for $150 million, Moreno later agreed to pay $96 million to build affordable housing elsewhere in Anaheim.

Aitken said she was “not committed” to that plan, though she said she would be willing to consider it as a basis for starting talks with the Angels.

“I’ll be very happy to talk to them and do a current analysis of the deal and see,” he said. “I bet we have more in common than we disagree.”

Aitken, like Moreno, said the focus for now should be on opening day. The mayor said she hasn’t missed a home opener in decades and she’s excited for the Angels’ April 7 game.

“I am a season ticket holder,” he said. Don’t look for me in the suite.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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