A New Day For Baseball In Anaheim: Harry Sidhu
URL: https://www.ocregister.com/2019/05/24/a-new-day-for-baseball-in-anaheim-harry-sidhu/
By: Harry Sidhu
Date: May 24, 2019

It is a new day in Anaheim, Orange County’s baseball city.

We are in the early stages of working with the Angels on the team’s future in Anaheim. In doing so, we want to build on the benefits baseball brings for our residents and extend a legacy that has helped make Anaheim the most exciting city in Orange County.

In 53 years of baseball here, we have celebrated an Angels World Series win, Nolan Ryan’s epic no-hitters and Vladimir Guerrero’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction.

Now there is Mike Trout. Our stadium, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, affectionately known as the Big A, is the only home field the game’s greatest player has ever known, and we are looking to keep it that way.

There are no specifics to share at this point. But there is one goal that will guide us when negotiations begin: Any agreement must benefit our residents and neighborhoods first as part of an agreement that also work for the Angels and fans.

Yet even at this early stage, there is no shortage of speculation about the future of baseball in Anaheim, not all of it productive. We welcome a conversation based on facts and with the understanding that when there is information to share, we will.

So let me recap where we are.

As Anaheim’s newly elected mayor, in early January I met with Angels owner Arte Moreno about starting fresh with talks about a new lease in Anaheim.

Shortly after, our City Council approved a 14-month extension for the Angels in Anaheim, allowing time for both sides to work on a new lease.

So far, the city has hired a real estate appraiser to value land around the stadium, while the Angels have enlisted the help of a development consultant to look at opportunities as part of any potential lease.

We expect to sit down in coming weeks and talk about a potential agreement that works for everyone, with a goal of progress by late 2019.

One thing is clear: We are not revisiting the contentious debate of 2013, when an early framework included a placeholder $1 a year lease of land for development to fund stadium improvements that neither the city nor the Angels ever intended as an actual deal point.

Either way, that was six years ago, and an entirely different time and dynamic for our city.

Today, we have a new City Council with a fresh perspective and renewed resolve to address what has been a matter deferred for far too long.

New Model

Whether improving or building new, stadiums are big-ticket items. We start out knowing that the new model for stadiums and arenas is as part of larger economic developments.

Baseball is a critical part of our vision for the Platinum Triangle, the 820-acre area including the stadium, neighboring Honda Center and the ARTIC transit hub.

The Platinum Triangle is seeing $1.5 billion in current and near-term investment to create a downtown built around sports and entertainment with urban-style homes, breweries, restaurants and workplaces.

With more than 150 acres of land around the stadium, we have the opportunity to create the kind of excitement seen around sports venues across the country while maintaining the unrivaled fan convenience of Angel Stadium.

What plays out would be distinctly Anaheim. But inspiration can be found across California, including in Sacramento with the city’s Golden 1 Center basketball arena or in San Diego with baseball’s Petco Park.

We are also watching baseball’s newest stadium, Globe Life Field, being built outside Dallas. Right next to the new stadium is Texas Live!, a $250 million entertainment complex built in partnership with the Texas Rangers, who will call Globe Life Field home in 2020.

Economic Development with a Purpose

In Anaheim, development of restaurants, shops or even a hotel or offices could be the primary way to fund improvements to the Big A or even a new stadium.

For Anaheim, it would be economic development with a purpose.

Our theme parks, sports venues and convention center are a matter of pride. But their real purpose is to serve residents by generating revenue for public safety, parks, libraries and community centers and by helping us keep taxes and fees low.

You can see this playing out in the Platinum Triangle now.

Golden Road Orange County, a craft brewery and restaurant just across from the stadium, is part of the area’s transformation.

Just a few years ago, the site housed a 1970s-era warehouse that generated little in the way of property tax revenue for the city.

With Golden Road, we now see additional property tax from the site plus sales tax revenue we never had before.

It is part of a larger trend. Since 2009, redevelopment in the Platinum Triangle has doubled our sales tax revenue in the area to about $8 million.

That money goes directly to public safety and community services for residents.

Long Beach

We are not alone in recognizing the value a stadium brings. Long Beach has approached the Angels with a proposal for a stadium in its downtown waterfront.

While we admire Long Beach’s ambition, we do not envy any city starting from scratch.

As a major league city for more than five decades, we are confident in the path, process and opportunity ahead of us here in Anaheim.

There is no better stadium site in Southern California. Angel Stadium enjoys access from three freeways, integrated train and bus service and worldwide exposure as part of a city that’s also home to Disneyland, Honda Center and the Anaheim Convention Center.

For the past 16 seasons here, the Angels have drawn more than 3 million fans to home games, an attendance milestone second only to that of the New York Yankees. That is no accident, and it happened right here in Anaheim.

Done right, a new agreement with the Angels will secure the next generation of baseball in Orange County while creating lasting economic benefit for Anaheim’s neighborhoods for years to come.

Harry Sidhu is mayor of Anaheim.”

 

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