Anaheim City Council finalizes negotiating team ahead of talks with Angels

The city of Anaheim on Tuesday finalized a team that will negotiate with the Angels, with hope that the two sides can work out a deal to keep the team in Orange County.

The move comes as Long Beach makes a play for the major league team, including a new Downtown waterfront stadium.

Anaheim’s negotiating team will include City Manager Chris Zapata, City Attorney Rob Fabela and Mayor Harry Sidhu, who nominated himself to be on the team Tuesday night.

Forming the team did not come without controversy. Some city councilmembers felt that the team should not include the mayor because of his ties to Angels baseball representatives who had previously contributed funds to his re-election campaign.

Waiting game continues for Anaheim, Long Beach as Angels decide site of future stadium

Sidhu had earlier tried to install himself as a member of the team during an announcement at a meeting in early June, something that raised concerns because the negotiating team wasn’t created through a City Council vote and might not be bound by the same transparency laws that other public bodies are.

Sidhu formally requested the issue be put on Tuesday night’s agenda so a vote could be taken to officially place him on the negotiating team.

When pressed by members of the council on why he felt it was important for himself to be nominated for the position, Sidhu simply said “I’m the mayor.”

Councilman Jose Moreno, however, said that members of the council had not been part of previous negotiations, including negotiations with the Anaheim Ducks.

Moreno had previously pushed to include himself and Councilwoman Denise Barnes on the negotiating team during the June 18 meeting when Sidhu announced he was appointing himself. Moreno said it was important to have either himself or Barnes on the team because they were the only two members of the council who had not taken contributions from anyone tied to the Angels.

He continued that effort Tuesday night.

“We cannot avoid the reality of the perception that when we accept campaign contributions from interests in our city that somehow that influences us,” Moreno said. “I am concerned that you’re saying ‘We’re friends with these people’. Cool, that’s great, I get along very well with John Carpino (President of Angels Baseball) as well. But when money exchanges hands something is expected in return.”

He said that if he were included on the negotiating team he would pursue keeping the city’s name in the team’s name, citing a previous report given to the city that showed that having “Anaheim” in the team name was worth as much as $30 million annually to the city.

Moreno also said he would want to include a community benefit agreement that would be either a market rate lease of the land, and if the team left, Moreno said he would pursue a market-rate sale of the land.

The motion to include Moreno or Barnes on the team received just two votes: Barnes and Moreno.

The city manager said the council would all be given updates on the negotiations and would still be part of closed session meetings where terms and price are discussed, but wavered when asked by one member if every view point from the members of the council not on the negotiating team would make it to the negotiating table.

Major venues that could fit in Long Beach’s ‘elephant lot’

The city of Anaheim is still awaiting a land appraisal of the 150-acre parcel of land when Angel Stadium is located. It will then move forward with negotiations with the team on potentially building a new stadium that could include an entertainment district and housing.

City representatives have said that any announcement of a deal isn’t expected in the near future and could even be pushed into next year.

The city of Long Beach has also been negotiating with the team to potentially build a new stadium on a roughly 13-acre site in downtown locally known as the “elephant lot.” City documents revealed earlier this year that bringing the team to Long Beach and constructing a new stadium for the Angels could cost as much as $1.1 billion.

Long Beach officials have not formally met with team representatives since March, one month after the Post reported that the city was trying to lure the team away from Anaheim.

Editors note: A city spokesman for Anaheim clarified that neither the Angels or the city is pursuing a $1 per year annual lease payment for the land surrounding the stadium. A previous version of this story said the team was pursuing one but has dropped that goal in recent discussions. 

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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