Anaheim Mayor Abruptly Resigns Amid Angel Stadium Scandal

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Major League Baseball has seen its fair share of scandals over the years, most recently the Houston Astros and allegations of the team banging on trash cans to indicate what pitch was coming.

But MLB has nothing on politics.

The Los Angeles Angels, formerly the Anaheim Angels, are now tangled in a weird vortex of apparent political scheming by now-resigned Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu

The biggest allegation is that Sidhu, a Republican, but, like it matters, was slyly sending details on the negotiations for the sale between the city and representatives for Angels owner Arte Moreno

Then in return, Sidhu was apparently hoping for campaign donations, because what politician doesn’t ever think they can’t get some money out of a deal? An FBI investigation also features wiretaps with the mayor noting he had deleted documents about the Angels Stadium sale.

Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council canceled Moreno’s deal to buy Angel Stadium and the surrounding 150 acres for $320 million.

Sidhu has not been charged with any crime, but resigned abruptly Tuesday. His lawyer, Paul S. Meyer, said that an investigation would clear Sidhu of any wrongdoing.

The current stadium lease remains in effect and lasts through 2029 with optional extensions available through 2038.

The background on Angel Stadium

Now the cynical sportswriter notes that Angel Stadium, also known as the Big A, is one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball, having been home to the Angels since 1966.

Moreno and his group wanted to develop the surrounding area with apartments and condominiums and turn it into an entertainment complex. In return, the franchise would pledge to stay in Anaheim.

Since municipalities don’t ever want to lose a professional franchise, they usually bend to what the team owner wants. But in this case, community advocates were disgruntled at the lack of transparency about the deal and the fact that there were no plans to offer low-income housing in the area.

Still, the deal looked done until Tuesday’s shenanigans. Moreno had given the city a June 14 deadline to accept the deal. He may truly have been negotiating in good faith, but he will not like seeing his name and franchise connected to this level of alleged corruption.

What usually ensues when an owner is aggrieved is a threat to move to a different city that will appease his (or her) demands. Cue Portland, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Montreal city officials to move in and whisper sweet nothings to Moreno about moving the team there. 

On the field, the Angels have been one of the best stories in Major League Baseball for the first quarter of the season. With superstar Mike Trout and two-way slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani, the Angels were 27-17 as of Wednesday, just one game behind the Astros for first place in the AL West. The Angels have only won one World Series in their history in 2002.