Anaheim Could Lose $96 Million for Alleged Stadium Sale Violation

July 21, 2021 Updated: July 22, 2021

The city of Anaheim, California, could lose $96 million if the Angels baseball stadium sale violated state law.

During a July 20 city council meeting, staff clarified how Anaheim might have violated state law during the sale of the stadium to SRB Management, led by Angels owner Arte Moreno and family.

The Department of Housing and Community Development sent a letter to the city alleging that it failed to “send out notice to the affordable housing sponsors and relevant government agencies and give them 60 days to respond as to whether or not they would be interested in negotiating a purchase of the property,” City Attorney Robert Fabela said July 20.

The sale was approved by the council in December 2019, prior to the Jan. 1 enactment of California’s Surplus Land Act (SLA), which makes it a requirement for the sale of local agency, county, and special district land to be made available to affordable housing sponsors and government agencies.

SRB Management paid $150 million to buy 150 acres of city land, including Angels Stadium, and agreed to build 466 affordable housing units and a seven-acre flagship park on the acreage with no city funding or subsidies involved.

If the city is found guilty of violating state law, it would be fined $96 million.

Fabela said he did “not believe is a realistic possibility” that the city will be found in violation of the 2020 SLA.

“We think that the 2019 version of the Surplus Land Act applies to the transaction,” Fabela said.

He also said that the transaction won’t be delayed while the allegations of a state law violation are underway.

Fabela said the city sold the land quickly in December 2019, since SRB Management said it was looking into moving the Angel’s baseball team to Long Beach.

Councilman Jose Moreno said on July 20 that the council was told by city staff that it needed to “act quickly or [the Angels baseball team] may go to Long Beach.”

However, Paul Kott, a realtor and lifelong Anaheim resident, told The Epoch Times that he believes the city was using that reasoning to “cover for their ineptitude. … I don’t think the Angels had any interest in moving to Long Beach.”

Kott said the stadium sale was a “colossal mistake” by the city council.

“The property’s worth easily $800 million, and the land value is worth $600 million—and they sold it for to him for $150 million,” Kott said.

“We sold our most prized asset; we sold the crown jewel of all public assets in the city of Anaheim for a fraction of its value.”