Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has engaged in talks with the City of Tustin (about 10 miles from their current Anaheim location) with an eye towards finding real estate for a potential new stadium in case they can't reach a new lease agreement with the City of Anaheim. An Angels spokesman confirmed the talks on Saturday.
According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Moreno says negotiations on the new lease have reached a stalemate in recent months, and it's apparent by his actions that he's preparing a Plan B in case the situation doesn't reach a resolution.
Back in September, it seemed the two sides were on track for a deal when the Anaheim City Council approved non-binding framework for a deal that would see the Angels committing $150 million to improve the infrastructure of Angel Stadium, their home ballpark since 1966. In return for that concession, the Angels would have the rights to develop the 153 acres of land surrounding the stadium for $1 a year.
It seems like a pretty fair give-and-take, but Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait disagrees. His stance is the city should in turn benefit from any profits the Angels make on the surrounding land. Much to the chagrin of Moreno, it’s Tait's opinion that matters the most, so the agreement remains stuck in a holding pattern.
"Somewhere along the line, there has to be a partnership," Moreno told reporters on Saturday. "Everybody thinks I'm going to make this fortune off the land. The first thing I have to do is capitalize the team, and then I have to capitalize the stadium, and then I have to go develop something, and who knows how long that takes before it becomes profitable."
Moreno makes some good points. He also seems resigned to the likelihood that neither side is going to budge any time soon, so he might as well explore a bit to see what other options are out there.
At this point, the talks with Tustin are said to be in the “infancy stages,” but there’s already talk that the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station could be the spot they‘re eyeing. As Gonzalez notes, it would be the most convenient location since it‘s accessible by three major California highways and sits across the street from the Tustin Metrolink train station.
That probably has some appeal for Moreno, but he's expected to open talks with other communities in the area to see what they can offer. He'll keep it close to home though, because even if push comes to shove and the Angels were to leave Anaheim, his goal is to keep the team in Orange County.
The Angels will have a window to opt out of their current deal — which expires in 2029 — between October '16 and October '19, so that adds another dynamic to the situation and the time frame in which it could develop. At the very least, it's a story to keep an eye on right now. But it could become very interesting very quickly if no movement comes soon.
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