Long Beach courts MLB's Angels after Anaheim deal collapses amid scandal

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One city's alleged corruption is another's opportunity.

A day after Anaheim nixed a stadium deal with the Los Angeles Angels amid scandal and two days after Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned because of his alleged involvement in said scandal, Long Beach is renewing its bid to lure the MLB franchise west.

The office of the Long Beach city manager issued a statement on Wednesday that the city is ready to restart conversations about building a stadium to house the Angels in the port city just south of Los Angeles. Per the city, Long Beach initially engaged in discussions with the Angels in 2019 about a waterfront stadium and entertainment complex on a 55-acre site.

“In February 2019, Long Beach began preliminary discussions on the potential for a waterfront stadium in Long Beach," the statement reads. "Those initial discussions came to a conclusion in December 2019 when the Angels chose to enter exclusive negotiations with the City of Anaheim. ...

"If the Angels are interested in continuing those initial discussions, Long Beach would reengage in those discussions and seek direction from the City Council."

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 24: Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Anaheim, CA. Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu announced Monday that he was stepping down after being accused of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. A federal public corruption investigation linked to the proposed sale of Angel Stadium and allegations that a secretive cabal controlled Anaheims politics. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The Angel Stadium deal has been nixed by the Anaheim City Council. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Stadium deal collapses amid corruption scandal

The Angels and owner Arte Moreno thought they had a deal in place to purchase their current home Angel Stadium and its surrounding property from the city of Anaheim for $320 million. But an FBI investigation into the negotiations unraveled the deal and ultimately prompted the Anaheim City Council to call it off via unanimous vote on Tuesday.

On Monday, Sidhu tendered his resignation as Anaheim mayor, days after an FBI affidavit alleged that he provided the Angels with confidential information during stadium negotiations in an effort to procure a $1 million campaign donation from the team. Sidhu was running for reelection in November.

Scandal engulfs Anaheim politics

Sidhu's alleged involvement is part of a larger corruption scandal in Anaheim that also prompted the city's chamber of commerce head Todd Ament to resign amid allegations of laundering chamber money into his personal bank accounts. Per the affidavit, Ament acted as a cooperating witness with the FBI and secretly recorded a conversation with Sidhu allegedly discussing his plans to elicit a donation from the Angels.

Democratic state party secretary Melahat Rafiei also announced her resignation after it was revealed that she acted a cooperating witness in the federal probe into the Republican mayor amid allegations that she offered bribes to public officials.

Sidhu faces allegations of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He has not been formally charged with a crime. His resignation on Monday preceded the Tuesday City Council vote that killed the Angel Stadium deal.

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 24: The public attends a packed chamber to address council members showing their disapproval of the Angel Stadium land sale at an Anaheim City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Anaheim, CA. Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu announced Monday that he was stepping down after being accused of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. A federal public corruption investigation linked to the proposed sale of Angel Stadium and allegations that a secretive cabal controlled Anaheims politics. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The scandal engulfing Anaheim's government inspired active citizen participation during a City Council vote on the Angel Stadium deal. (Gary Coronado /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

'Ditch the deal!'

Per the Los Angeles Times, Tuesday's vote was a raucous affair that involved 39 speakers, including one who led a packed chamber audience in a chant of “Ditch the deal!” With the city anticipating a legal fight with Moreno, councilman Jose Moreno said that he would welcome the chance to depose the Angels owner under oath amid the allegations that Sidhu offered the team confidential information. Neither the Angels nor Moreno face allegations of wrongdoing in the FBI affidavit.

While the Angels longterm residence remains in peril, they maintain a lease with the city at Angel Stadium through 2029 with the option to renew through 2038, the Times reports. It's not clear if there's any legitimate interest from the Angels to look into the Long Beach proposal.

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