The Angels notified the city Tuesday the team is opting out of its lease at Angel Stadium, beginning an exploration of options for the team, which could negotiate a new lease to remain at the venue or seek out a new home.
“As we look to the future, we need the ability to continue to deliver a high-quality fan experience beyond what the original lease allows,” Angels president John Carpino said in a statement. “It is important that we look at all our options and how we can best serve our fans now and in the future.”
An Angels spokeswoman told City News Service that team officials want to wait until after the election of a new mayor and city council members to discuss options, which could include negotiating a new lease at the facility.
The Angels had until Tuesday to exercise its option to opt out of the lease, or the team would have to wait another 10 years. The decision was a “contractual” one, not a “political one,” the spokeswoman said.
“It was important to make this decision, so we can explore all options and continue to give our fans a great experience,” Angels Chairman Dennis Kuhl said in a letter to “sponsors and partners.”
Kuhl added, “There will be no change for the 2019 season, as the team will continue to play at Angel Stadium.”
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who is being termed out of office, was critical of the team’s lease proposals during negotiations four years ago, prompting the team to ultimately terminate the talks.
The Angels previously considered moves to neighboring Southern California cities, most notably Tustin. The team has played at the city-owned Angel Stadium since it opened in 1966.
Mike Lyster, spokesman for the city, said in a statement, “We look forward to many great years of Angels baseball in Anaheim.”
“We don’t believe there is a better place for the team than in the heart of Orange County’s most exciting city,” Lyster said. “The Angels’ paid attendance here puts them in rare company as part of a group including the Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs that sell more than 3 million tickets each year. As fun as baseball is in Anaheim, this is a reminder that this is still a business. And we understand that the Angels need to preserve all options available.
“We welcome talking with the team about the future of baseball in Anaheim,” he said.
Orange County supervisors on Tuesday directed county CEO Frank Kim to see what the county can do to help with negotiations.
“With redevelopment law in California I don’t see how they go anywhere else and they get a better offer,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson, whose district includes the stadium.
“They already have the property essentially for free, and they get ticket revenue up to an enormous amount,” Nelson said. “They get all the concessions and all the parking revenue. What else is there to give them but free land? And you’re not even allowed to give them free land.”
Nelson said he feels the stadium is a “pretty nice stadium,” though he could understand if the team wants to upgrade its luxury suites.
“I wouldn’t profess to be the number one expert on baseball renovation but they have a smoking deal in Anaheim,” Nelson said.
Nelson wasn’t sure how the county could help.
“We have property in Tustin, and we could let them build a brand new stadium there potentially, but the streets aren’t ready to handle that kind of traffic and the train doesn’t stop on the property,” Nelson said. “It has so many disadvantages.”
Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who also represents portions of Anaheim, said the county must do what it takes to keep the team in Orange County.
“Obviously, we’re deeply concerned,” Spitzer said. “Angels baseball is a fabric of Orange County like mom and apple pie. We’ve got to everything we can.”
Spitzer said he asked county officials to create a “strike force” of stakeholders in the area tourism bureaus to get involved in helping with negotiations.
“Anaheim can’t be negotiating this all by themselves,” Spitzer said. “We cannot afford to lose Angels baseball in Orange County. … I want everything on the table. I want the county to approach Anaheim and the Angels and see how we can be helpful.”