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Angel Stadium future uncertain after Moreno decides to keep Angels

Anaheim development plan Angels June 2020

With Arte Moreno and the Moreno family deciding to hang on to the Los Angeles Angels and an exploration of a potential sale is over, the future of Angel Stadium and any potential redevelopment is once again up in the air.

Moreno and Angels officials, along with Galatioto Sports Partners, had been meeting with potential buyers about a sale of the team. After divulging plenty of financial data and taking plenty of meetings, Moreno decided to pull back on the sale. In a statement:

“During this process, it became clear that we have unfinished business and feel we can make a positive impact on the future of the team and the fan experience. This offseason we committed to a franchise record player payroll and still want to accomplish our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to our fans. We are excited about this next chapter of Angels Baseball.

“We are grateful to Galatioto Sports Partners for their outstanding efforts throughout the process that allowed us to meet with a number of highly qualified individuals and groups who expressed strong interest in the Club. However, as discussions advanced and began to crystallize, we realized our hearts remain with the Angels, and we are not ready to part ways with the fans, players, and our employees.”

Now, to be clear, Moreno never actually agreed to sell the team: he described this as an exploratory process and sought to determine the worth of the team. With the Angels expected to fetch at least $2.5 billion—and maybe more, considering there are some upsides based on the uncertain status of Angel Stadium—an MLB record sale price exceeding the $2.4 billion paid by Steve Cohen for the New York Mets was widely anticipated.

But things never progressed to the bidding stage. So Moreno is committed to the team for now. Besides needing to address some large financial challenges on the player side (i.e., addressing the future of Shohei Ohtani), any owner of the Angels would need to address the future of Angel Stadium. 

Which is cloudy at best. Moreno put the team on the market after negotiations to buy the ballpark and surrounding land from the city of Anaheim collapsed when former Mayor Harry Sidhu was accused of sharing financial information with the team in exchange for a $1 million contribution. Sidhu resigned his office, and the City Council used the accusations as an excuse to cancel the deal with Moreno.

Neither the Angels nor Moreno ever made a political contribution, however, and despite an FBI investigation, Sidhu has not been charged with a crime. 

But while many in Anaheim and baseball expected the city and new Angels owners to make another run at an Angel Stadium development plan likely calling for a renovated facility, Moreno’s continued ownership of the team may complicate the effort. The Angel Stadium lease expires in 2029, and the development plan was designed to keep the team in Anaheim on a long-term basis. Though we don’t expect the team to leave the market—the Angels draw well and they have a great broadcast deal—the uncertain ballparlk future may potentially scare off potential buyers; for others, who are pursuing the popular financial model of using pro sports as a centerpiece to future development, it’s catnip.

We’re not sure that some of the potential billionaire buyers identified by the press were all that serious—Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Seong-Shoon and Kleiner Perkins partner, Golden State Warriors (NBA) and former Oakland A’s suitor Joe Lacob reportedly expressed interest—but we did hear of a few investors who saw potential with any Angel Stadium development. Lacob oversaw construction of a new San Francisco arena where associated development was part of the deal, in fact. But Moreno never let things get to that point—a development hailed by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement:

“Despite strong buyer interest in the Angels, Arte Moreno’s love of the game is most important to him.  I am very pleased that the Moreno Family has decided to continue owning the team,” Manfred said.

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