By Dan Schlossberg
Just when the Angels are getting good, their future in Anaheim is getting bad.
The 1961 American League expansion team has a lease with the city that expires in 2029 but has options that would allow the ballclub to extend its stay through 2038.
But owner Arte Moreno had hoped to build a revenue-generating baseball village around his stadium, creating an outdoor bazaar similar to those in Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and St. Louis.
That plan now appears dead. The Anaheim City Council killed the sale of the city-owned Angel Stadium to Moreno’s company, SRB Management, triggering bids from other California locations.
Long Beach wants to build a brand-new ballpark in an era called “the Elephant Lot,” a 13-acre site where circus elephants were once kept. There was even talk of a 55-acre development that would have allowed Moreno to add his baseball village.
Another landing spot for the Angels is Inland Empire, the largest metro area in the country with no major-league sports franchise. It has more than 4.65 million residents.
Inland Empire also inquired about the Oakland Athletics and Florida (now Miami) Marlins dating back as far as 1996. A local attorney even offered shares in something called Inland Empire Baseball LLC to fund acquisition of a team plus construction of a ballpark.
If the Angels are serious about leaving Anaheim, they might also entertain offers from Las Vegas, Vancouver, New Orleans, Montreal, and Austin, among others considered to be front-runners for future expansion clubs.
Meanwhile, the situation in Anaheim is sticky, to say the least. Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned during a corruption probe that involved the FBI and relations between the team and city are icy, to say the least.
That’s too bad, since Joe Maddon’s team finally seems to have enough pitching to pose a serious threat in the American League West. Noah Syndergaard seems healthy again after Tommy John elbow surgery and kid named Reid Ditmers pitched the only complete-game no-hitter of the season. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani and three-time MVP Mike Trout head a productive offense bolstered by the comeback of Anthony Rendon and the arrival of Taylor Ward.
At the moment, the team is doing a downward dog. Entering its doubleheader at Yankee Stadium Thursday, it had lost six in a row and 10 of 13. That dropped its overall record from 24-13, good for a piece of first in the West in mid-May to 27-23 and a five-game deficit.
But everyone is still keeping an eye on the ballpark situation in Anaheim.
Although The Big A has proximity to Disney and a parking situation far superior to Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers seem to have an unbreakable grip on Southern California. They have the biggest payroll and the best record — not to mention a benign climate better than anyone else with the possible exception of the San Diego Padres.
If the Angels want to compete, they have Moreno’s money behind them. But it would be better if the city were behind them too.
Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ covers baseball for forbes.com, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Latino Sports, and many other outlets. He’s an author too, with 40 books under his byline. Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.