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Angels, Tempe Reach Deal

Team extends lease at Arizona spring training site in exchange for state-of-the-art facilities.

November 09, 2004|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Angels got their new spring training complex without leaving their old one, agreeing Monday to a $20-million renovation of their Tempe, Ariz., facility in a deal that might not cost them a cent.

The Angels agreed to a lease extension in Tempe through 2025, in a rebuilt spring home that team President Dennis Kuhl said would be "state of the art."

"We're thrilled," Tempe City Manager Will Manley said. "We feel we've got the premier team on the West Coast and the premier owner on the West Coast."

The renovations, scheduled for completion before spring training opens in 2006, include new stadium seats and extended awnings to shade them, expanded concession and merchandise areas, lawn seats behind the entire outfield instead of behind left field only and additional parking.

The project also includes a new clubhouse and four additional practice fields, enabling the Angels' minor leaguers to train with the major leaguers instead of at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, about 25 minutes away.

"It's a good deal for us," owner Arte Moreno said.

The city will pay $8 million and will get another $12 million from state funds earmarked for the construction and renovation of facilities. The Angels agreed to pay any cost overruns, but Manley said he believed $20 million would be sufficient.

In a letter to Tempe officials last year, the Angels declared they would not renew their lease there. The Angels had negotiated with the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear, where Moreno wanted to build a $40-million complex on land he owned, but talks collapsed last fall over division of revenues and expenses, dashing hope of a grand opening in 2005. Goodyear Mayor Jim Cavanaugh said the Angels never responded to the city's last proposal, sent in March.

"The timing issue was starting to drag," Moreno said. "If we would have been able to break ground last year, we'd have been there in a couple of years."

With the Angels staying in Tempe, Goodyear still has available the $10 million voters approved last month toward construction of a spring training facility, and Cavanaugh said "more than one" team based in Florida has expressed interest in moving there.

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The Angels signed outfielder Curtis Pride to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training with the major league team. Pride, 35, hit .250 in 35 games with the Angels last season and .431 in 19 games at triple-A Salt Lake.

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