LONG BEACH (FOX 11) - City officials have approached the Los Angeles Angels about the possibility of moving the team from Orange County to Long Beach, where officials hope to build a new stadium on a downtown waterfront lot.
The stadium would potentially be constructed on a roughly 13-acre lot southeast of the Long Beach Arena and Performing Arts Center, according to a story first reported by the Long Beach Post on Monday.
"As part of our efforts to create a downtown waterfront development plan, we are exploring the feasibility of a downtown sports venue on the Convention Center parking lot," Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.
"We are in the early stages of our due diligence and are exploring a variety of options for this property. We have approached the Angels to express our interest and discuss the possibilities of this opportunity. This is very preliminary and discussions are ongoing."
The Angels exercised an opt-out of their lease for Angel Stadium in October that meant the team wouldn't play in the city of Anaheim after October 2019. However, the Anaheim City Council approved a 14-month lease extension on Jan. 15, ensuring the team would play at the city-owned venue through at least 2020 and allow time for both sides to discuss a new, potential long-term lease.
The Angels negotiated with Long Beach in the 1960s, but the talks ended when then-owner Gene Autry rejected Long Beach City Manager John Mansell's demand that the team be called the Long Beach Angels.
Mike Lyster, a spokesman for Anaheim, said Tuesday afternoon, "We're not surprised another city might reach out to the team. It shows how important teams can be, particularly for a city looking to redevelop and revitalize an area."
Anaheim officials, however, are "confident and focused on Anaheim," he said. "We believe we have a path forward, but we have work ahead of us."
Angels officials characterized the talks with Long Beach as just discussions, not negotiations at this point. Other cities have also approached the Angels.
Lyster noted the Angels have been in the city for 53 years.
"They've won a championship here, and they were one of 17 teams to draw three million-plus fans to home games, putting them up with the Yankees, Dodgers and Chicago Cubs" in attendance, he said. "That speaks a lot to the fan base here."
Despite failing to make the playoffs, the team still drew more than 3 million fans, Lyster said.
The city has been making a push to develop the area around the stadium, Lyster said, pointing to two craft beer breweries across the street as an example. The revenue from surrounding development will give the city a leg up on financing a new stadium.
Lyster also noted another advantage of Anaheim is the access to three area freeways, which makes the experience of getting to and out of the stadium more convenient.
CNS contributed to this report.