As the city continues discussions with the Los Angeles Angels to potentially relocate the team from Anaheim to a Long Beach waterfront stadium, the question remains: how much it would cost and who would pay for it.
The cost of a modern baseball facility has skyrocketed from the days of Dodger Stadium, which was constructed in 1962 for $23 million (less than the $25 million that Angels’ centerfielder Mike Trout makes annually).
The new Marlins Ballpark in Miami, which opened in 2012, cost $515 million. When the New York Yankees tore down their iconic stadium to replace it with a shiny new replica in 2009, it cost over $2 billion.
Both came with major contributions from taxpayers: Miami-Dade County put in more than $350 million dollars, and the residents of New York paid almost $1.2 billion in public funds to complete the new stadium in the Bronx.
What would Long Beach be willing to kick in? For now, the city isn’t saying, noting that the discussions are still in the early stages.
“Right now, it’s just conversations,” city spokesman Kevin Lee said.
But some recent deals struck with the private sector could hint at the city’s potential offerings to the team—and how much it could cost taxpayers.
The Queen Mary
In 2016, the city and Urban Commons LLC entered into a 66-year lease agreement in 2016 where the Los Angeles-based firm agreed to take over operations on the ship and to develop the land surrounding it. In return, the city fronted about $23 million in funding to help with operational repairs and agreed to contribute an additional $1 million annually from Carnival Cruise passenger fee revenues to help construct a new passenger facility.
Under the terms of the lease, Urban Commons is required to pay a monthly base rent of $300,000 as well as 10 percent of operating revenue, however, those payments are not due until after Urban Commons receives a 9 percent annual return on its initial investment.
In an attempt to revive the city’s only emergency room on its eastern flank, leaders reached a tentative deal this week to split the cost of bringing the shuttered Community Hospital into seismic compliance. The City Council agreed in principle to a deal with the Molina, Wu, Network to invest up to $25 million of city funds to bring the buildings up to code.
The new 45-year lease will also continue the practice of leasing the city-owned land that the hospital sits on for $1 per year. The same lease payment was extended to MemorialCare Health System, the previous operator of Community Hospital. The deal to re-open the hospital is being structured under the public-private-partnership model, known as a P3.
When Amazon announced it was looking to expand its empire outside of Seattle, cities across the country rushed to compile often secretive proposals of tax-breaks, land deals and other incentives to lure the tech-giant. Long Beach joined two bids, but most notably, partnered with Huntington Beach for its primary pitch to bring Amazon to Long Beach.
In their official proposal to Amazon, the two cities offered a number of sweeteners, including a sales tax sharing agreement that would’ve seen 10 percent of sales tax revenue go to Amazon as a rebate for the anticipated economic activity it would bring to the region. The deal included offers for property tax sharing in which the cities would set aside portions of taxes paid by Amazon to be used to improve its new facilities, and the use of hotel taxes to also benefit the areas around the potential Amazon campus.
It also offered a streamlined permitting process for capital projects, as well as filming permits for Amazon studios if it wanted to shoot in Long Beach or Huntington Beach. The city also pledged to use the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network to help Amazon subsidize its labor cost, noting that in some cases “up to 90 percent of a new worker’s wage can be reimbursed.”
While there were few hard numbers provided in the proposal, the broad outlines could have likely resulted millions of dollars annually either not being paid by Amazon or being taken from city revenues to benefit Amazon.
The Civic Center
The threat of earthquakes flattening seismically unsound buildings has cost the city a lot of money in recent years. After a study found that a large enough earthquake could topple City Hall, the city moved to construct a new one. Using the public-private-partnership model, it entered into a lease agreement with Plenary/Edgemoor to construct a new home for the city and the Port of Long Beach that involves the city paying rent to the developer.
The $520 million project will cost the city about $14 million annually over the course of the next four decades while it is a tenant of the building, but ownership will eventually revert back to the city.
The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse
The public-private-partnership model was first used in Long Beach to build a bigger courthouse after the old county courthouse on Magnolia Avenue and Ocean Boulevard had outlived its usefulness. While much of the funding for the $490 million project came from the state, including $2.3 billion in state funds turned over to the developer over the course of the 35-year lease to upkeep the property, the city still incurred a cost.
Because the new courthouse did not come with an underground tunnel to transfer inmates to and from the police department, the city had to start using vans to transport them above ground. The cost was estimated at about $243,000 annually.
What do the Angels want?
It’s no secret that the Angels want to build more than a stadium, whether that’s in Long Beach or Anaheim. The most recent discussions between the Angels and Anaheim have hinged on the surrounding parking lots being leased to the team for owner Arte Moreno to develop.
The last proposed deal by the Anaheim City Council would have leased the property to Moreno for nearly 70 years for as little as $1 per year, a move that former Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait blasted in an op-ed in the Orange County Register in 2013.
Under their current deal with Anaheim, the Angels gets to keep parking revenue until it hits $6 million; the team doesn’t have to share ticket revenue with the city until it eclipses 2.6 million tickets sold. Combined with the city’s debt service and annual capital improvement costs it shares with the team, about $500,000 per year, the city has netted an average of about $340,000 annually in revenue from the stadium.
As for the team’s discussions with Long Beach, a spokeswoman also emphasized the talks are preliminary.
“We continue to look at all our options including our ongoing discussions with Anaheim in order to ensure that we can continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience well into the future,” Marie Garvey, representing Angels Baseball, told the Post earlier this week.
Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz__LB on Twitter.
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