The fallout in Anaheim, sparked by a federal corruption investigation, raised reasonable suspicion that Long Beach could benefit from Anaheim’s trial and error in stadium negotiations. In early 2019, Long Beach had initial conversations with the Angels about the prospect of moving the team to the large undeveloped plot near the Long Beach Convention Center known as the “Elephant Lot”.
“If the Angels are interested in continuing these initial discussions, Long Beach would re-engage in these discussions and seek direction from the City Council,” Long Beach said in a statement Wednesday.
Long Beach has been trying for some time to activate the 13-acre Elephant Lot, which is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land along the California coast. He recently updated wording for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to include a clause that the city may seek development of the land, which could again include a baseball stadium.
Long Beach’s statement noted that no further discussions have taken place between Long Beach and the team since December 2019, when the Angels and Anaheim reached a negotiation agreement to move forward with a development plan. of a much larger project on the 155-acre site surrounding the existing stadium in Anaheim.
But that plan has since collapsed, with the city council voting unanimously Tuesday night to end the $320 million deal to sell the stadium and surrounding land to Angels owner Arte Moreno, who had planned to develop the land into housing, restaurants, park spaces and the like. Approvals.
Marie Garvey, spokeswoman for the Angels, told the Los Angeles Times that the team was disappointed with Anaheim’s vote and that the team “is currently exploring all of our options.” Garvey did not immediately respond to questions about whether those options would include restarting talks with Long Beach.
Tuesday’s vote followed a turbulent week in Anaheim politics after an FBI affidavit alleged that Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu gave the team advantageous information during negotiations in hopes of to secure $1 million in campaign contributions for his upcoming re-election.
The filing also implicated Melahat Rafiei, a well-connected political consultant with ties to Orange County and Long Beach, as a cooperating witness who recorded meetings for the FBI.
Rafiei, who was also accused in court papers of attempting to bribe Irvine council members to enact pro-cannabis laws, resigned as California State Democratic Party Secretary and member of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday. Sidhu resigned as mayor on Monday.
Long Beach’s statement on Wednesday appears to be among the first communications from the city regarding any resumption of talks with the Angels. Several city council members said they had not heard of any preliminary talks about resuming talks when contacted on Wednesday.
Jeremy Harris, president of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said that, just like in 2019, if the city were to negotiate the team’s move to Long Beach, the chamber would support it.
Developing the lot has been a priority for the Chamber as it tries to attract business to Long Beach and improve conditions for those trying to recover from the pandemic.
“A vacant parking lot definitely doesn’t help that,” Harris said. “A hotel, ballpark or other use would lend itself to this.”
An existing lease requires the Angels to stay in Anaheim through 2029 with an option to extend the lease through 2038. Long Beach has already booked the Elephant Lot as the venue for the 2028 Summer Olympics.
The city’s efforts to assess the seismic resilience of the land – it is made of fill – and how the water table below might limit what could be built on it have not been completed. A public awareness campaign to gauge public opinion on what should be built has been delayed due to the pandemic, city officials said.
The team and city officials had been working on the Anaheim deal since 2019 and seemed poised to formalize it before state housing officials stepped in to block it, saying it had violated the Surplus Land Act which requires state-owned land to be offered to affordable housing developers first.
The Elephant Plot could provide a unique opportunity as it is public land within the Tidelands area, where housing has not been construed as a permitted use.
Tidelands areas are governed by a public trust doctrine that has historically blocked residential housing in favor of developments like restaurants, hotels, convention centers and stadiums because they are public uses.
Compressing a stadium into the 13-acre space and finding a way to move tens of thousands of fans through an area of downtown that lacks freeway access could still prove a challenge. But it’s a challenge Long Beach seems ready to take on, if the Angels want to talk about it.
Long Beach appears to have struck in an attempt to lure the Anaheim Angels
Anaheim’s corruption scandal also shakes Long Beach’s political world