Angel Stadium project run into rough weather


Los Angeles Angels stadium update October 2021 Image: LA Angels

When the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Los Angeles Angels (US) pitched a mixed-use development of the facility, it hovered around on a new or renovated Angel Stadium. The project has huge potential, however, it is facing innumerable challenges both at the State and regulatory level.

The ‘Ballpark Digest’ stated that to say that California is a challenging State for development is an understatement. It’s also a State where you would find sizable entry barriers in the way of Government participation in funding or financing sports facilities. Reasons why private capital has been injected into the most recent large-scale venues – the 70,000-capacity SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California (US), the under-construction 18,000-capacity arena Intuit Dome in Inglewood, California, and the 18,064-capacity Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball team based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Angels compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. Since 1966, the team has played its home games at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, US.

The 45,050-capacity Angel Stadium of Anaheim, originally known as Anaheim Stadium and later Edison International Field of Anaheim, is a modern-style ballpark located in Anaheim, California. Since its opening in 1966, it has served as the home ballpark of the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB), and also served as the home stadium of the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) from 1980 to 1994.

The ‘Ballpark Digest’ further stated that the same model was followed in Anaheim, where Angel’s owner Arte Moreno struck a deal with the City to buy the 20-acre Angel Stadium site and an additional 133 acres comprising 12,500 parking spaces for games and events. This deal also included the City National Grove of Anaheim with a seating capacity of 1,700. The total cost: $150 million in cash and $170 million in community benefits, including affordable housing. The goal was a mixed-use development a la The Battery located in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

That deal came after much debate: Opponents of the sale argued the land was undervalued, and affordable-housing advocates argued the deal did not go far enough to address a very real problem of a lack of affordable housing in Anaheim. And, as one would expect, lawsuits ensued once the deal between the City and Angels was approved. There is one big issue looming and one small issue in the news.

The big issue, and one that could derail the entire project, is whether the sale met State rules for the sale of surplus property. This is a big deal for the Newsom (read Gavin Newsom, Governor of California) administration. State rules say that when a City sells land, it must first be offered to a State-approved list of affordable-housing developers for bidding. Cities can shape the requirements set forth in a request for proposal (RFP), however. In San Diego, we’re seeing the City tripped up by the Surplus Land Act, forcing a second run at a sale of the Pechanga Arena site to developers after the first run did not meet the State guidelines. Anaheim officials say they met all provisions of existing law when planning a sale, it’s under review.

The smaller issue: The People’s Homeless Task Force filed suit, saying the deal did not meet State standards for State public transparency laws. Right now the lawsuit is in discovery, and the two sides are sparring over whether the City adequately responded with all public records relating to consideration of the sale. Now, it is getting deep in the legal weeds when discussions start on whether search terms were adequately responsive, and determining what search terms are adequate is an art, not a science. After City production, Orange County Superior Court Judge David Hoffer ordered more discovery:

  • Hoffer ruled recently that the City’s affirmations that it had searched for all relevant documents were insufficient because “they do not provide any information about how the search itself was performed or even … how the searchers were instructed to perform it.” Hoffer ordered the parties to meet and agree on the search terms to be used in a new search….; and
  • He has made no rulings about the merits of the case.

Disagreements about discovery are not uncommon, so it’s important not to read too much into this ruling. Just a normal part of the process called development in California.

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