The Los Angeles Angels are entirely focused on Anaheim in their ongoing discussions about a long-term ballpark plan, putting Long Beach on the back burner.
Last fall, the Angels effectively sought to open facility discussions by opting out of their Angel Stadium lease. The ballpark is the fourth oldest in Major League Baseball, having originally opened in 1966. It did undergo a major renovation prior to the 1998 season, but those improvements have not aged particularly well, and the Angels are looking for a long-term solution.
One option has been Anaheim, where the Angels and city officials are expected to focus on a plan that involves either a new or renovated ballpark as the anchor of new development at the 155-acre Angel Stadium site. Long Beach had emerged as a possible contender for the team, as officials there floated a 13-acre lot near Long Beach Arena on the city’s downtown waterfront as a possible site for a new ballpark. The Angels, however, are zeroing in on Anaheim, hoping to have an agreement in place by the end of the year.
An organization spokeswoman confirmed that this was the case, adding that Long Beach “is on the back burner.” For their part, Long Beach officials are not shutting the door on the Angels, though the city is acknowledging that no progress has been made lately in discussions with the team and that other plans for the downtown lot are being evaluated. More from the Los Angeles Times:
The Angels also have entertained a move to Long Beach, but for now they are considering only Anaheim, with the goal of striking a deal by Dec. 31.
“We are 100% focused on Anaheim,” Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said. “Long Beach is on the back burner.”
Long Beach remains interested in the Angels but is evaluating other uses for its waterfront property, city spokesman Kevin Lee said.
“We had early conversations with the Angels,” Lee said. “We haven’t had any progress lately.”
The scope of what the Angels and Anaheim officials explore remains to be seen, though it is expected that any ballpark plan will be tied to a broader objective of bringing new development to the Angel Stadium property. When it comes to financing the project, one potential model could come from Sacramento, where an MLS expansion team is set to begin play in 2022 at a new soccer-specific stadium that will be an anchor of the larger redevelopment of the city’s downtown railyards. Construction of the stadium itself will be privately financed, but the city assembled a $33 million incentive package to reimburse the team for infrastructure improvements at the site.
Whether that model is in some way worked into a deal between the Angels and Anaheim remains to be seen, though Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg has noted the advantages of such a concept. More from the Los Angeles Times:
“For the city to make a $30 million or so infrastructure investment is not only reasonable, it’s smart, for the future of this part of the city, and for the city as a whole,” he said.
“It’s always very important that the city first protects its taxpayers, but you also have to take the long view. If we really want to protect the taxpayers, then we will invest in ways that create a broader tax base. In Sacramento, we’ve been known for so long as a government town. We’re a proud capital city. But we realized, in recent years, that isn’t our future. It’s too limited.”
In Anaheim, the city directed one of its consultants on the Angels deal to review “public infrastructure requirements … and assist City in developing a public financing strategy,” and the options listed included the strategy used in Sacramento, according to his employment agreement. The city further directed the consultant to suggest options for “a defensible public-private template” that would accompany the sale or lease of any parking lot land.
Anaheim did not include an infrastructure rebate in the development agreement it struck last year with the NHL Ducks, a deal city officials often describe as a model for a potential deal with the Angels. However, according to city spokesman Mike Lyster, the city has a voter-approved infrastructure district in the Platinum Triangle, the 820-acre area that surrounds and includes Angel Stadium and the Honda Center.
Time will tell how the Angels settle the uncertainty surrounding their long-term facility plans, but for now it seems that the primary focus is on discussions with Anaheim officials that could yield a solution.