Anaheim Angels continue to violate their lease. Oh well, maybe next year

2022 was quite the year for Anaheim City Hall. The FBI began to look into allegations of corruption involving the mayor (and others in the city government) and the Anaheim Angels owner, Arte Moreno. Before this investigation, Moreno had agreed to buy the ballpark’s home field for $150 million in cash. But days after the FBI investigation came to light, the city cancelled the deal. Moreno, however, had spent the previous few days trying to push the city to allow the deal to go through even with the FBI investigation going on. He then threatened to sue the city if they didn’t give him $5 million for the failed land deal.

Fast-forward a few months and Moreno oddly announces that he may sell the team. As Voice Of OC noticed, Moreno announced that he may sell on the same day that Anaheim City Council members were expected to respond to a grand jury report that looked into whether any city officials had “betrayed the public with secretive dealmaking” in selling the ballpark land to Moreno.

— CBS News LA

One reason he may want to sell? He has a massive bill waiting for him if he doesn’t. According to a 2013 report, we could be talking about a bill above $150 million. After the FBI investigation, the city ordered a stadium maintenance report that found a significant number of repairs were needed that the Angels are contractually obligated to fix.

The 1996 lease is clear on who must pay for maintenance:

Tenant will maintain the Baseball Stadium in good condition and repair subject to ordinary wear and tear at its sole expense … The standard of maintenance to which Tenant will adhere in the maintenance of the Baseball Stadium will be at least equal to first class professional baseball stadium– Anaheim Angels Ballpark Lease

Since it is the Angel’s responsibility to pay for the stadium’s maintenance, are they running to fix everything? We don’t know because the city of Anaheim is almost scared to ask the team to make the fixes. The Angels response is to claim that they have “spent over seven times more than what the lease requires in capital improvements and maintenance”.

— Statista

The facts, however, show otherwise. Since 2002, the team has spent $54 million on capital repairs/improvements with $12 million coming from the city. Additionally, a number of the so-called improvement projects were just upgrades that the team wanted, such as replacing their scoreboard to a newer model. Building permits show that the Angels were spending money from their pockets so that they could buy the cool, new gadget and not the contractually obligated maintenance. But remember when this story started, and I said the repairs were around $150. Well, the new number is closer to $300 million now.

But things are looking better, right? We have new city members in the government who will set things straight!

Anaheim City Council Members secretly rejected a transparency lawsuit settlement that would have made them commit to negotiating any future Angel Stadium deal in public view–, 05/15/23

What about the new mayor? Maybe she can push the Angels to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said in a Friday phone interview that asking whether the city will force the Angels to make the recommended repairs is ‘putting the cart way before the horse’– VoiceOfOC, 06/05/23

So, nobody. Presently, the Angels lease will expire in 2029. I guess we will just have to get used to the city letting the Angels pay for whatever they want.

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