Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

How To Call A Team's Bluff On Stadium Subsidies

Illustration for article titled How To Call A Team's Bluff On Stadium Subsidies

Today, the Angels walked away from negotiations on a deal to renovate Angel Stadium, all because the city did something every city ought to do when its sports team comes looking for handouts: Anaheim did its homework.


Angel Stadium opened in 1968 and last underwent a near-total facelift in the late '90s. Last year, the Angels and Anaheim City Council discussed a deal that would see the team spend $150 million on another overhaul, but in exchange the Angels would receive the surrounding parking lots on a $1-a-year lease. That's good, cheap land, potentially quite profitable for Moreno, so Anaheim mayor Tom Tait proposed splitting the profits from redevelopment of that land between the team and the city.

The Angels balked, stalling negotiations since last September. The final straw was this:

When the city also directed the appraiser to value the land without a stadium – that is, with the Angels leaving and the ballpark demolished – and to determine how much it might cost Moreno to build a ballpark elsewhere, the Angels walked away from the negotiating table, claiming the city might not be committed to keeping the team even as all five City Council members declared they were.

I can't think of a better or more damning indictment of the stadium financing game than that. Rather than blindly turn over potentially hundreds of millions in public money, the city of Anaheim took a calculated, dispassionate look at its other options. So the sports team owner took his ball and went home, threatening to leave town and blaming the city for not being "committed."

Moreno and the Angels have already met with officials about potential stadium sites in Tustin and Irvine, and haven't ruled out the possibility of a specific lot in downtown Los Angeles. Anaheim's chill about the whole thing and ready to let Moreno shop around, because no one seems eager to pay for a new park for the Angels.

"We can afford to build a new stadium," Angels owner Arte Moreno said.

Then just fucking do it, Arte.

[L.A. Times]