A waterfront baseball stadium in Long Beach could cost over $1.1 billion, with debt service financed by public and private revenue streams, according to an analysis provided to the city in October, when officials said they began talks to bring the Los Angeles Angels to Long Beach.
The preliminary financing structure of such a massive project was included in a nearly 600-page trove of documents the city released late Monday in response to records requests by media organizations. The Post made its request for records in late February after first reporting that the city was in talks with the Angels.
The total cost of the stadium project, including interest, could exceed $1.1 billion, according to the analysis compiled by consultants. The cost depends on 20-, 30- and 40-year financing scenarios.
Many of the financing options would entail issuing general obligation bonds or the “creation of new revenue streams”—which would require voter approval. The city also explored other options that would not require a public vote, including a complicated lease deal in which the city would own the stadium and lease it back to vendors.
To pay back any bonds issued or debt incurred, officials explored the “universe” of revenue options, including:
• New taxes, including sales, hotel occupancy, parcel and facility use. Each of those would require a two-thirds vote of the electorate if they were to be used in connection with a specific project.
• Special taxes and assessments could be imposed on specific properties within a specific financing district, which would generally require a two-thirds vote of property owners in the district.
• Lease revenues from the stadium (if the city is to own it) or other facilities that would be owned by the city.
• Parking fees imposed or increased in connection with any existing city-owned parking facilities or any future structures to be constructed.
• Fees from stadium and other facility naming rights, concessionaire revenues and sponsorships.
The city withheld documents related to property negotiations, attorney-client privilege and other communications held in closed session.
Draft documents related to actual terms and conditions of the deal were withheld “as this is an active negotiation,” city officials said. “Recommended terms and conditions of a proposed project would be brought to the City Council in open session for public debate and direction at the appropriate time.”
Thus far the city said it has spent roughly $60,000 on consultant services by HR&A Advisors, an economic consulting firm with experience in the area of stadium development and large multi-use developments.
The city’s investment in the project could take the form of direct contributions toward buying the 13-acre elephant lot near the Long Beach Arena, along with construction of the actual facility, construction of parking facilities and plaza areas, along with roadway improvements and other infrastructure.
The city looked at parking issues related to the stadium, including a structure that would add 3,500 spaces at a cost of $105 million.
The city also explored using existing parking Downtown, Metro transportation, and possibly shuttles from Long Beach City College, Cal State Long Beach and Lakewood Mall to accommodate visitors.
Citing the example of San Francisco, officials also mulled whether to push for state legislation that would allow construction of housing—with some of it affordable—in the Tidelands area near the stadium, which currently is prohibited.
“That process would involve introducing a State bill to change the Tidelands Trust restrictions for a particular site, and would require approximately a 12 month process for the bill to be proposed, enacted, signed into law, and go in effect,” officials wrote.
The city could achieve a similar result through a land swap, which would entail giving a parcel of land of equal value to the Tidelands Trust, relieving a portion of the elephant lot restrictions. “The city has done this twice before on land in the downtown [area], and has significant experience and success in achieving this,” officials wrote.
The land swap would likely take up to two years, possibly one if expedited.
The documents released Monday show city officials had contact with the Angels as far back as 2014, and an initial meeting with the Angels in June 2017.
Councilwoman Suzie Price emailed Tim Mead, vice president of communications, in October 2014 asking whether the Angels would consider Long Beach for a stadium.
Then, on June 7, 2017, Mayor Robert Garcia emailed John Keisler, director of economic development, saying he had recently met with Angels representatives.
“I know you are going to meet with them next,” the mayor wrote to Keisler. “Just a note that this is a big one. Really hoping we go all in to see if this is a possibility.”
The city previously said it began preliminary talks with the Angels in October 2018.
The documents released this week show that between June 12, 2017, and March 3, 2018, the city paid an architecture firm $17,000 to explore a variety of development opportunities for the elephant lot. Plans did not focus on any specific project, officials said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that John Keisler is the city’s director of economic development, not the director of development services.
Melissa Evans is the managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-437-5814.
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