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The Los Angeles Angels are heading into a period of renaissance in their hometown of Anaheim. For the immediate future, they have another new first-time general manager charged with building a winning team around eight-time All-Star centerfielder and three-time American League MVP Mike Trout.
For the long term, the real estate arm of Angels owner Arte Moreno’s business is about to engage on the reconstruction of Angel Stadium and the development of a ballpark village around it in a $320 million deal that is expected to close after technical procedures are fulfilled sometime next year.
Despite the coronavirus and about $200 million of losses this season, this Thanksgiving approaches with a lot for Moreno to be thankful about.
“The way we see it is, the first thing is [supporting] the team building and getting a competitive product on the field,” said Moreno, who’s owned the team since 2003 but hasn’t enjoyed the win of a single playoff game since 2009. “Second would be getting the existing facility up to date and making sure that when the fans come back they are in a fun and safe place.
“And third is our long-term plan and what projects we would take on from the development side.”
For now, Moreno made it clear that new GM Perry Minasian will have the resources to rebuild the pitching staff and a competitive club to highlight the skills of Trout.
“We don’t look at it like we have to remodel the whole team,” Moreno said. “Add some pieces that will give us a chance to compete at the highest level.”
About the payroll, which is projecting thus far to be $148.2 million this coming season, good for the fourth-highest in Major League Baseball, Moreno added:
“I’d rather not say right now, but let’s put it this way: It’s not going to go down.”
To be sure, the Angels are not hurting. The 74-year-old Moreno is worth $3.4 billion. The ballclub purchased from Disney for $184 million is free and clear and now valued at $2 billion.
That value will only continue to accelerate, considering the deal Moreno is about to complete with the city of Anaheim. In exchange, the Angels are committed to remain on the same site for a minimum of 30 years, with options on five extensions of five years each that could lock them in until 2075.
SRB Management LLC, a real estate entity controlled by Moreno and his family separate from the Angels, has agreed to purchase the existing stadium and the 150 acres of land around it and on which it sits, city documents reveal.
That $320 million agreement, approved in September and October by the Anaheim City Council, stipulates that $150 million for the stadium be paid over time in cash payments of $5 million, $45 million, $20 million and $80 million. Of that, $50 million is already paid.
The remaining $170 million is earmarked for economic growth in the parking lot around the existing ballpark: $123.7 million to include mixed-use development and $46.2 million for a seven-acre park.
The deal calls for the construction of 5,175 apartments, 777 of them affordable at market rates, 2.7 million square feet of office space, 1.75 million square feet for retail, restaurants, and 943 hotel rooms, plus the recreational park.
The only decision that’s outstanding is whether the ballpark will be renovated or replaced, and that won’t be determined until sometime next year.
“The completion of the sale of the property is targeted for 2021 and at that point we will be able to talk further about our plans for the future of the stadium,” said Marie Garvey, a spokesperson for SRB and the Angels. “We are still in the early stages of our planning and have not yet engaged an architect. We will continue to invest in the current stadium and the fan experience as we have always done.”
The existing ballpark, opened in 1966, is already in its third iteration. It was originally constructed as a cozy baseball-only park nicknamed “The Big A,” but was converted into an enclosed 60,000-seat multi-purpose stadium that was also home to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams from 1980-94.
When the Rams left for St. Louis, the decision was made to restore the edifice back to a 45,050-seat facility, which it has remained since 1998.
Since then, the city of Anaheim has owned the ballpark, which is nestled in the midst of 12,500 parking spaces just west of the 51 freeway and only miles from Disneyland. The Angels average in excess of $4 million a year in capital repair and maintenance.
Across the way is the Honda Center, the arena where the Anaheim Ducks have played since joining the NHL in 1993.
That arena area to the east of the 51 is also supposed to be developed by the Ducks.
To say that the land around Angel Stadium is currently under-utilized is an understatement. But that will change as redevelopment occurs on the property over the next 25 years, with the open-space residential park scheduled for completion within 15 years of the deal’s closing.
New ballparks without retractable roofs have been fairly cost-effective in recent years. The most recent, Atlanta’s Truist Park, was opened in 2017 as SunTrust Park at the cost of $622 million. The home of the Braves is in the heart of Battery Atlanta, a $1.1 billion ballpark village much like the Anaheim project.
Ballpark villages have grown organically around baseball stadiums in San Francisco, San Diego, Denver and Washington. But planned developments like the one north of downtown Atlanta, and those around Anaheim as well as a projected ballpark in Oakland, may be the new norm.
Moreno hasn’t even begun the process of penciling out what all of this will cost. Anaheim notes there are liquidated damages of as much as $300 million and no less than $100 million if the above obligations aren’t met.
But that’s all in the future. For the present, Moreno is taking steps for the Angels to play at least .500 baseball for the first time since 2015, and gain a playoff spot for the first time since 2014.
“The bottom line is we just haven’t won enough,” Moreno said. “We need to turn some of those Ls into Ws.”
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