Arte Moreno and company are running out of daylight in their negotiations with Anaheim regarding stadium renovations and/or a proposed sports entertainment complex, and there’s really nobody to fault but themselves.
Talks on renovations had stalled out with the city, as Moreno and the Angels looked for other places to take the franchise, but when the proposed site of Tustin recently fell through, the focus shifted back to the team and the city getting something worked out.
Moreno seemed to have been playing hardball, making a case to the public and fans that they would move if the city didn’t play nice and pay up, but that tact appears to be completely backfiring on the billboard mogul. Just like in the realm of baseball deals, Moreno is learning that his prior business acumen doesn’t necessarily translate into franchise ownership acumen.
The city has stood up to the bullying, stood pat in their decision to not fund any renovations, and now, they’re trying to move forward with another development deal that cuts right to the heart of the Angels’ Plan B: to build up part of the parking lot themselves, turn it into an LA Live-type entertainment center, and use the money generated from that to upgrade the stadium.
The Anaheim Planning Commission dismissed the Angels’ objections and unanimously voted in favor of a 15-acre complex of shops, restaurants, offices, residences and a hotel. The Anaheim City Council has the final say on the project and is expected to vote on it within the next two months.
A city-issued fact sheet noted that the project, at the northeast corner of State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue, would include a 30-story residential tower “with views of Angel Stadium” and an outdoor entertainment center — similar to the Grove in Los Angeles — with “places to eat and drink before and after Angels games.”
In a letter to the city, Angels attorney Allan Abshez wrote that the project would “cannibalize the Angels’ existing food, beverage and retail operations at Angel Stadium” and “fundamentally undermine the Angels’ negotiations to remain in Anaheim over the long term.”
If Moreno thought he might have a nice fallback option, then the city didn’t get the memo and is straight up flaunting in his face their ability to get a comparable project going while the Angels doddle and drag their feet. The City of Anaheim is not messing around, and if you’re one of the Angels fans who silently (or loudly) likes to see Moreno get dashes of comeuppance, then this story has your name written all over it.
The city can go ahead and get to work on a completely different building project, but one that would serve the same role as the Angels’ idea (more entertainment, shops, food, etc.) and it would essentially serve to take the wind out of the Halos’ development dream sails. Which means less money in the long run for Arte, and makes his wish of getting stadium renovations paid for by anything other than his own money a quickly-vanishing daydream.
Sometimes, when you try to play the part of the cocksure bully, you get so lost in your own sauce that you forget the little guy not only knows how to throw a punch, but they are also wearing brass knuckles (Arte Moreno is Buddy Revell and the city is Jerry in this analogy, of course).
Stay tuned. This story should only get more interesting and juicy as the off-season approaches.