ANAHEIM, Calif. — Back to square one.

After back-and-forth negotiations with various members of the Anaheim City Council through the past decade, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno thought he had a deal in place to buy the city-owned 150-acre Angel Stadium and its surrounding parking lots.

What You Need To Know

  • Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno is back to square one after agreeing with the city to void the Angel Stadium land deal

  • The Angels and the city voided the controversial land deal after the FBI began investigating Anaheim's former mayor relating to the deal

  • With the team's lease not expiring until 2038, Moreno has several options with what to do with the team 

  • Some of the options include moving to staying on a long-term lease with Anaheim, renew negotiations to buy the stadium and land, or move to Long Beach or elsewhere

Moreno’s real estate development company, SRB Management, had grand multi-billion dollar plans to build a downtown-like stadium experience similar to San Diego, San Francisco and other places. There’s a lively atmosphere of restaurants, retail, office buildings, apartments and hotels surrounding the ballpark. 

Moreno had also pondered renovating the current Angel Stadium — the fourth oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, opened in 1966 — or building a brand new one.  

But all those plans are on hold or dead.

With former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu embroiled in an FBI corruption probe relating to the stadium deal, city officials and a representative for Moreno agreed to nix the $320 million tentative sales deal.

The question on many people’s minds is, what will Moreno do now with the Los Angeles Angels baseball team?

Here are a few options:

Remain in Anaheim on a long-term lease

Moreno has time to figure it out, for now. The team’s lease with the city runs through 2029, with three three-year extensions through 2038, unless the City Council plans to void the lease agreement. Some councilmembers are thinking of challenging the lease agreement. Sidhu led a 14-month extension of the Angel’s ability to opt out of the lease in early 2019. When the Angels did not opt out in December 2019, the original 1996 lease agreement automatically continued on to 2029.

Moreno has a favorable rent situation, mostly based on the share of ticket sales above a certain threshold and revenue sharing. The city, which contributes $700,000 for the basic upkeep of the stadium, barely breaks even. 

The team does not have an opt-out clause before the end of the current lease, said Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster to Spectrum News.

“Any future discussions about the lease would be a matter for our City Council,” he said.

If he stays, one sticking point remains: The aging stadium requires more than $150 million to $200 million in basic infrastructure improvements, such as plumbing and concrete work. However, the city and Moreno have squabbled about who is responsible for paying for it.  

Renew talks with Anaheim to buy the stadium and land

Moreno could wait until public furor calms down and renew talks of a new stadium deal with possibly new city council members and mayor. 

Four seats are up for grabs in the council in the November elections, including the vacant mayor seat.

But there’s no guarantee that a new city council will give him something similar to the previous deal he struck in 2019. With more public scrutiny and pressure on the council members to strike a fair deal for the city, Moreno could have to dish out more for the 150-acre Angel Stadium and surrounding parking lots.

Still, the reward would be great if Moreno were to strike another deal.

Large pieces of land are scarce in Southern California, especially in urban and tourism-rich Anaheim. Securing and building a new Angel Stadium, and developing the surrounding area, could boost his — and his family’s — pocketbook for generations.

Long Beach has proposed this location to the Angels owner to build a waterfront ballpark (Google images)

Move to Long Beach

With the Angels’ lease with Anaheim expiring, Long Beach courted the Angels heavily before Moreno struck a deal with Anaheim in late 2019. 

Long Beach has a 55-acre plot next to the coastline and Long Beach Arena, where Moreno could build a new 13-acre waterfront baseball stadium and smaller mixed-use retail and business district surrounding it. 

The land is three times smaller than the one in Anaheim, and parking and public transit might be a mess, but Long Beach city officials are willing to work with Moreno and his team to develop the area.

Just a few hours after Anaheim voted to void the approved deal with Moreno, Long Beach was ready to woo the team again.

“If the Angels are interested in continuing those initial discussions, Long Beach would reengage in those discussions and seek direction from the City Council,” the Long Beach city manager said in a statement, according to the LA Times.

Angels could move elsewhere

During the mid-2010s, when Anaheim’s City Council played hardball with the Angels, Moreno and his team searched for other possible locations to move the team. 

One of those locations was at the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin. 

Though there was some interest, Tustin’s City Council wouldn’t commit to any public money to fund a new stadium. 

Moreno could also wait for another city desperate for a Major League Baseball franchise in SoCal or beyond. Las Vegas has been heavily courting the Oakland Athletics as the latter tries to negotiate with Oakland city leaders for a new ballpark.  

With their lease in Anaheim not ending until 2038, Moreno has a lot of time to figure things out.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu struck a new lease agreement with the Angels in 2019. Sidhu led an opt-out extension of the original lease agreement. The story has been updated. (June 2, 2022)