Angels opt out of stadium lease

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The Angels have played in Angel Stadium — which has gone by several names over the years — since 1966. Since that time the park has gone from state-of-the-art to the fourth oldest in the game.

Like every other team, the Angels would love to make a boatload of money on a new or dramatically-upgraded, cash-generating ballpark. Like every other team they would likewise prefer not to pay for a new or dramatically-upgraded, cash-generating ballpark. They want someone else to.

In a lot of places this ends with the Angels getting a new or dramatically-upgraded ballpark at taxpayer expense. California is not a lot of places, however, and in recent years, taxpayers and local governments have made it clear that they do not intend to foot a billion dollar bill for a multi-billion dollar business’ showroom space. Not that the Angels have not tried.

Several years ago, the Angels tried to get Anaheim officials to pay for $130-150 million in upgrades and renovations to Angel Stadium. The mayor led the opposition against that, so the Angels disengaged and approached the Orange County suburb of Tustin, California about the possibility of a new stadium. The idea would’ve been for Tustin to build them something on an ex-Marine base. After some negotiations, Tustin told them no, so the Angels went back to Anaheim. No traction has been achieved in the past two years, however.

That leads us to today, in which the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have opted out of their lease with the city of Anaheim.

That doesn’t mean the team plans on leaving — the terms of the lease required them to either opt-out now or be automatically renewed for a decade — but it does mean that the team has maximum flexibility to negotiate with whoever and wherever it wants. And,  it can find a better deal than the one it has in Anaheim they can bolt. Think of them as the sports team equivalent of month-to-month renters.

The problem is that there isn’t a realistic place for them to bolt to unless they plan on paying for their own ballpark. And they seem to know that. From the Times:

[Angels spokeswoman Marie] Garvey said the Angels understand they are unlikely to find a city in Southern California willing to pay for a new ballpark.

“We understand the realities of California,” she said. “There is a significant investment involved either way.”

Acceptance is the final stage of grief, I suppose. But team owner Arte Moreno is worth $3 billion bucks or so and his team is worth close to $ 2 billion, I reckon. I feel like he’ll be fine whatever he has to do.

UPDATE: Nice statement from Anaheim. It’s the first time I can recall a local government properly acknowledging that a sports team is not some sort of public trust or civic institution as opposed to a simple business, entitled to no more favor than any other: