New Anaheim mayor open to potential stadium deal with Angels

The Curse of Harry Sidhu was born on May 24th, 2022. That day, the Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to end a deal that would have anchored the Angels in the city for decades and allowed their owner to build an urban village around Angel Stadium.

An FBI agent had alleged that Sidhu, the former mayor of Anaheim, leaked city secrets to the Angels in hopes of raising a multimillion-dollar campaign donation from them. The stench of corruption – even as Sidhu denied the allegation – made the deal too toxic to proceed.

The Angels lost their next 14 games, the longest losing streak in the franchise’s 63-year history. They fired their manager. They finished 33 games without first place.

That may be amusing. This isn’t: This is the year the curse of Harry Sidhu is really starting to take its toll on Anaheim.

On Saturday, Angels owner Arte Moreno said he plans to meet with new Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken in the next few weeks. He declined to say if he would consider a third round of stadium negotiations with a city that had told him he had a deal twice in the last decade.

“They have a new government,” Moreno told reporters in Arizona. “And we will work with this administration. We’ve been there a long time. And we’ll see what happens.”

Moreno has all the options thanks to Sidhu.

Across the 57 Freeway, the Ducks’ owners are about to break ground on a Honda Center neighborhood with restaurants, shops, concert halls, parks, homes and offices. From there, it’s a short walk down Katella Avenue to Angel Stadium. Angels fans might enjoy this stadium village even if Moreno doesn’t build anything in the Angel Stadium parking lot.

He’s under no obligation, even if the city seeks development and tax revenue from a parking lot the city itself hasn’t developed for more than half a century. Sidhu hastily urged the City Council to reinstate the Angels’ lease as a Plan B if Moreno’s negotiations to purchase the property failed, but neither the mayor nor the city’s public statements communicated this to Anaheim residents.

If Sidhu hadn’t offered the angels that insurance, the city would have gotten the gavel because the lease would have expired. Instead, the city now faces a team that has the power to decide whether the lease expires in 2029, 2032, 2035, or 2038, and thus has the power to restrict the city’s ability to build on the site for an additional 15 years.

Former Anaheim Mayor Henry Sidhu poses for a photo.

Former Anaheim Mayor Henry Sidhu.

(Karen Tapia/Los Angeles Times)

For Anaheim, this seems like the worst of both worlds: The city will have to wait for Moreno to decide what to do with its award-winning property; and Moreno could still move the team or sell it to someone else who would do so.

“I can’t imagine a future in Anaheim without the Angels,” Aitken told the Times. “As a lifelong fan and season ticket holder, I think they’re an important part of our history and our city. I think we can make a deal that is mutually beneficial for Anaheim residents and taxpayers, and for the Angels.”

The political environment could become turbulent. In April, the city plans to hire a firm to assess the condition of the 58-year-old stadium and make recommendations for maintenance and modernization. After that, the Council and the angels could argue over who should pay the hundreds of millions in costs.

After the collapse of the stadium deal last year, amid the FBI investigation that led to the allegations against Sidhu and fraud convictions against the president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, the city commissioned an independent investigation. One of the investigators told the city council last month that he suspects “more charges will come in the coming months.”

The city also faces ongoing stadium-related litigation over alleged violations of the Brown Act, which requires the public’s business to be conducted in the public eye. An Orange County grand jury report said the city had “cheated its constituents” by “persistent lack of transparency and rushed decision-making in the processing of stadium real estate transactions.”

Angels owner Arte Moreno speaks to reporters at the team's spring training facility.

Angels owner Arte Moreno speaks to reporters at the team’s spring training facility in Tempe, Arizona, in 2019.

(Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

That’s a lot of complications. There would be a lot more if the city and the Angels started negotiations from scratch. Perhaps the city should put the deal that died last year back on the table, this time with transparency and with public hearings informing the council, rather than just filling in the time before a preordained vote.

As a candidate, Aitken called this agreement “a corrupt deal without a bid.”

Nonetheless, the dead deal would have accomplished a number of city goals.

The city would have gotten out of the stadium business, which it doesn’t make money from. The Angels would have covered the cost of renovating the stadium or building a new one. The city would have been expected to generate $652 million in tax revenue over a 30-year period from development, the cost of which would be borne by Moreno and/or development partners. The Angels have pledged to play in Anaheim by 2050. The city would have got more than 6,000 new houses.

And after the city agreed to sell $325 million worth of land to Moreno for $150 million, Moreno later agreed to pay $96 million to build affordable housing elsewhere in Anaheim .

Aitken said she is “not committed” to this plan, although she would be willing to consider it as a basis for conversations with the angels.

“I will be very happy to speak to them and do and see an updated analysis of the deal,” she said. “I bet we have more in common than we disagree.”

Aitken, like Moreno, said the focus should be on opening day for now. The mayor said she hasn’t missed a home opener in decades and is looking forward to the Angels game on April 7.

“I’m a season ticket holder,” she said. “Don’t look for me in the suite.” New Anaheim mayor open to potential stadium deal with Angels

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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