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Thinking Big in Anaheim


With the Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim officials extending the Angel Stadium lease through 2020, both sides apparently are thinking big in order to back a new or renovated ballpark at the current Big A site.

If you were to begin planning an Anaheim ballpark from scratch, you’d quickly settle on the current Angel Stadium location as a leading contender to host a facility. With plenty of freeway and mass-transit access and proximity to leading Anaheim attractions like Disneyland, the Anaheim Convention Center and Anaheim Gardenwalk, the 820-acre Platinum Triangle is already a major attraction thanks to the ballpark and Honda Center, home to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

With that much acreage and existing foot traffic, it’s no surprise that development is eyed for the area. There’s been some development in recent years, adding some 5,000 housing units and retail/restaurants to the area, but Anaheim officials have been reluctant to pull the trigger on any larger-scale plans. Most notably: Anaheim rejected an offer from the Angels to redevelop part of the property as part of an Angel Stadium renovation, under the fear that owner Arte Moreno would be underpaying for the land.

But with a new mayor, the focus is back on Angel Stadium site redevelopment. The Angels are already committed to develop their own plan for the 231 acres surrounding the ballpark, and the city is expected to launch its own planning. It’s highly likely both sides will come to roughly the same conclusions: a large sports and entertainment that would also attract housing and office space. It’s a model that works: The Battery has been a success in making a solid economic impact in Cobb County as part of the SunTrust Park development, and L.A. Live is a solid draw in downtown Los Angeles, fueled by events at the Staples Center. Using sporting facilities as kindling for associated development is a hot economic trend, and the idea would be to do the same at Angel Stadium.

“We really think it can be L.A. Live on steroids,” John Woodhead, the city’s director of community and economic development, told the Los Angeles Times.

One big issue that must be solved: Do you renovate Angel Stadium or build a new one? Building a new ballpark next to the old one is a common strategy, used successfully in New York City and Cincinnati to maintain continuity and capitalize on existing infrastructure investments. Angel Stadium opened in 1966 and is currently the fourth-oldest MLB ballpark after Fenway Park (1912), Wrigley Field (1914) and Dodger Stadium (1962). Angel Stadium was last renovated in 1998, when then-Angels owner Disney Corp. hired Populous and cutting-edge architect Robert A.M. Stern to remodel the aging facility. The ballpark had been altered since its 1966 opening to accommodate the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, but the 1998 changes opened the center-field area and returned the facility’s focus to baseball. It’s still a dated facility, with crowded concourses, cramped seating and limited amenities. There’s no doubt a new, modern facility will be under discussion as talks begin.

This article first appeared in the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Ballpark Digest newsletter.

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