City of Anaheim Should Set Terms of Any Stadium Deal Going Forward

June 14, 2023

The corruption scandal in Anaheim and Irvine -- and its connection to the sale of Anaheim Stadium has largely overshadowed the original reason the sale was stopped – Anaheim’s violation of California’s Surplus Lands Act. The law was intended to prohibit just the type of collusion that occurred between Anaheim’s mayor – acting on behalf of the city – and the Angels organization. Unlike the attempted sale of the stadium, the Surplus Land Act requires a competitive bidding process to ensure taxpayers receive the highest value for their property. An additional purpose of the Act is to require 25 percent of the property be dedicated to affordable housing in order to mitigate the housing crisis. The failure to meet both of these requirements caused the California Department of Housing and Community Development to issue a violation.

The conspiracy to violate the Act and defraud Anaheim’s taxpayers illustrated the need for clarity in the disposition of public property in California. In order to ensure transparency and to avoid a debacle similar to the prior attempted sale of Anaheim Stadium, I have introduced Senate Bill 44 that requires a public review period for large transactions, prevents the bidding process from being skipped, requires that any fines levied are tied to the fair market value of the land, and ensures that lengthy leases are subject to the Surplus Lands Act.

At least two individuals are being convicted of federal crimes in this case. That fact must inform any sale, lease, or renovation of Anaheim Stadium even before my Senate Bill 34 is enacted.

This Anaheim taxpayer-owned property is incredibly valuable -- worth up to $500 million according to a 2019 appraisal. Although the stadium is owned by Anaheim, it’s a regional asset. Any sale, lease, or renovation has impacts well beyond Anaheim’s boundaries. As the new Anaheim City Council takes control, the City needs to adopt a clear and transparent process for any potential stadium disposition.

Anaheim taxpayers paid for the construction of Angel Stadium and its adjacent parking lot in 1966. That investment has become the City’s most valuable property some 57 years later. The recent failure to sell presents the City with a new opportunity to get a fair deal for Anaheim taxpayers -- while creating both much needed housing and a center for jobs and entertainment for all of Orange County. But in order to accomplish these goals, the City needs to set a clear and transparent process that will maximize benefits to the community and comply with the law.

  1. The last appraisal of the property was in 2019. The real estate market has changed considerably since then. An updated objective appraisal should be the starting point of any potential sale, lease, or renovation.
    1. Renovation is required to the stadium. Any appraisal should include an assessment of potential changes that may alter the overall value of the stadium.
    2. Appraisals and assessments of any disposition, should include an analysis of the value of the name “Anaheim” in the title of the baseball team.
  2. The City should contract with a consultant familiar with professional sport teams and stadium dispositions, as well as the Southern California real estate market. The overall value of the property is so great that the City should not be working blind in the negotiation.
  3. The Angels will remain the property of the Moreno Family for the foreseeable future. The City cannot remain reactive to but needs to get ahead of the property appraisal and potential sale negotiation now.
  4. A professional baseball team playing in Anaheim is a valuable economic asset -- but the taxpayers cannot be held hostage to the threat/unlikely event of the Angels leaving.

Anaheim Stadium is an asset worth thousands of dollars to every Anaheim family – whether or not they are Angels fans. I have confidence that Anaheim’s new leaders will honor the trust those families placed in them nearly a half century ago.