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Lawsuit Seeks to Have Angel Stadium Land Sale Rejected

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Alleging that negotiations were made in violation of transparency laws, a group is suing in order to halt Anaheim‘s agreement to sell Angel Stadium and surrounding land to a development group led by Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno

In December, the Anaheim City Council approved the broad outlines of a deal to sell 153 acres–including Angel Stadium and its surrounding parking lots, as well as the City National Grove of Anaheim theater–to SRB Management Co. LLC, where Moreno is the controlling partner. The sale price is proposed at $325 million, though the final cost will be determined after factors like community benefits, a workforce agreement, affordable housing and a specific commitment to the Angels staying in Anaheim are negotiated this year.

A new lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court takes aim at the agreement, as a citizens group named People’s Homeless Task Force has filed a legal challenge. In that lawsuit, the group alleges that the city violated California laws by undertaking negotiations with a “lack of transparency … orchestrated with an intent to keep interested members of the public, and even dissenting councilmembers, in the dark.” The group contends that the court should toss out the agreement on this basis, though the city stands by the process it took leading up to December’s vote. More from the Los Angeles Times:

On Dec. 4, the city and the Angels announced a deal under which a company affiliated with team owner Arte Moreno would buy Angel Stadium and the surrounding parking lots for $325 million, with the final price expected to be discounted if Moreno agrees to include affordable housing and parkland on the property. The city council voted to approve the deal at its Dec. 20 meeting.

The lawsuit alleges in particular that, before the Dec. 4 announcement, “there had never been any public discussion of the possibility of selling the property.” In 2018, however, the City Council publicly commissioned an appraisal of the land value for both lease and sale scenarios. In August 2019 — in an op-ed article, at a news conference and at a public council meeting — Mayor Harry Sidhu said the that the city should consider lease and sale and that he would insist on market value either way.

Still, [the group’s attorney Kelly] Aviles said, the city’s decision to sell the property rather than lease it should have been publicly debated before the conclusion of a deal.

“We stand by our process,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said, “which spanned a year of public comments, updates, briefings and discussions for our city council, as well as extensive sharing of information with the community.”

While there were some objections to the sale potentially undervaluing the 153-acre site, approval was expected leading up to December’s vote. A sale of the land to SRB Management would be part of an ongoing effort to redevelop the property in the future, with Moreno and his investors expected to pursue a mixed-use development concept that emulates models such as The Battery Atlanta. Additionally, the Angels would agree to remain in Anaheim through 2050 (with five five-year options), playing at either a new or renovated ballpark that would anchor the development. (The Angels have not yet determined whether Angel Stadium will be renovated or replaced.) Angel Stadium is currently the fourth-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, having originally opened in 1966 and receiving its most recent renovation in 1998.

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