Thursday, January 20, 2005

Culver City Angels? Hmmm

Noted LA Times columnist J.A. Adande sums up the Angels name change and inexplicable fan outrage in an article in today's edition of the Times by stating "there's only one way to make it all work: win". Duh. Kind of like spending $40 million on TV advertising to promote the release of Willy Wonka and then saying "well, it better be good or the advertising won't matter". Yes Mr. Obvious, I think that is a basic premise of business. The advertising can assist getting you movie patrons on opening weekend or baseball fans in April. But if the product sucks, don't look for them to return.

However, Adande does make a good point with this comment: "If Arte Moreno is going to play with the big boys and act like a big-market team, then he loses the lone privilege that comes with being small-market — the absence of pressure." The Angels have enjoyed living in the protective bubble of the OC where losing seasons are quickly forgotten when their fans' attention is breezily diverted to surfing, sunning and road rage. Not that the Dodgers have had it so tough down the freeway. I don't recall anyone calling for Dodger executive heads to roll as they endured a 15 year dry patch without a playoff victory that was finally snapped with a by going 1-4 last postseason (one more win than the Halos). Ok, maybe the villagers did mention a casual disdain for Kevin Malone but the Sheriff really was an idiot who would have been drawn and quartered New York. So Southern California is a bubble unto itself. Look what Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had to do to undermine the good name of that franchise. An alledged rape, trade of one of the best players in team history (arguably), insulting a future hall-of-famer so he can not return and insuring that their team will be a .500 club for the foreseeable future since no other NBA star players want to play with Kobe. Then you have the built-in disadvantage in that every other team in the league circles the Lakers date on their calendar in anticipation of getting their shot at Kobe. So J.A., point taken but please do not mistake So Cal for New York, Boston or St. Louis. Fans from other parts of the country continually make the mistake that those of us residing in the southwest are "bandwagoners" or "fair-weather fans" but the truth is, we have lives and options. We have a multitude of diversions on which to spend our discretionary income so the Angels, Dodgers and Padres are not just competing with one another for fans, they are competing with the beach, mountains, biking, hiking, Disneyland, Vegas, golfing and dozens of other activities that Southern California's climate affords us April - October. How does an owner insulate himself from the inevitable down years when the fans decide to Rollerblade instead of catching a ball game? They get guaranteed revenue from TV & radio contracts. This is an area where the Angels are extremely vulnerable financially and there is no quantifiable reason why.

A look at the numbers shows that very little separates the Angels in Dodgers in terms of their ability to draw fans in person and over the airwaves. Last year the Angels and Dodgers BOTH drew over 3.3 million fans (The Dodgers actually drew 112,606 more fans, but at least part of the difference can be attributed to Dodger Stadium's larger capacity of 10,950 seats over Angel Stadium) proving that two good teams can coexist and prosper in a market the size of the Southland. But as I have stated before, it is the big TV money they are after. John Carpino, Angels VP of Sales & Marketing stated in Adande's article, "More than anything, I'm trying to build a fan base throughout the area, because it really benefits my television and radio partners." True, but it also benefits you Johnny when it comes times to re-up those contracts. There are also the lucrative contracts with Fox Sports and DirecTV so fans like me can cough up over a hundred bucks a season to watch Fox Sports broadcasts of Angel games that LA fans get for free. Then they have the gall to still show the commercials despite the fact that I am paying for this. C'mon, at least show Steve Physioc picking his nose or Rex Hudler waxing poetic during the breaks. On top of that there's the $15 a month I pay to watch the Angels on the internet (for the 10% of games that DirecTV does not show). But the only way Halo management is going to demand and receive a bigger portion of the TV revenue pie is to prove that their product appeals to the 14.6 million people across Southern California and not just the 332,000 in Anaheim. It is the perception of being a large market team that is important here. The Angels and Dodgers are within 5% of one-another in both attendence and TV Ratings yet Channel 9 gives the Blue Crew $10 million annually while having offered the Angels just $5.5 per year. A name change does not solve this for the Angels but it is the first step towards branding the team across Southern California so that those the Angels must bargain with can not refer to them as "small market" and pay them accordingly.

Which brings us back to the original point, if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim do not win and make consistant appearances in the post-season for many years to come they will not be able to build the brand and fan assoication they need to draw bigger media contracts. Likewise, fans will not care what the team is called so long as they can continue to associate themselves with a winner. Or as Carpino put it: "If you're winning, you could be the Culver City Angels".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you're winning, you could be the Culver City Angels".

It looks like one member of Arte's posse isn't toeing the company line.

This gentleman is admitting that it's winning, not a ridiculous name change, that is the key.

If that's so, why is our franchise being made to look foolish this winter?

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your comments. On top of which, the Angels used to be the Los Angeles Angels not too long ago! What is the big deal with going back to an old name? Would Anaheim sue if they decided to go back to the California Angels?? I just don't get why so many people are upset about this. There are basically two teams in LA, just like there are two teams in NY, two teams in the Bay Area, two in Chicago ...

An the clincher for me, like you mentioned, the Los Angeles Rams played in Anaheim for years!


8:12 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

The difference is that the Rams did not change their name when they moved to Anaheim (much like the Jets and Giants in football). The Angels name change was purely a marketing gimmick, that is likely to backfire anyways. FOr instance, one of the main reasons that they are not getting offered the same TV contracts as the Dodgers is that they have not proven they can consistently pull in the ratings the Dodgers can over the long haul...they have only done it for the last few years. A TV station is not going to take the chance on giving the Angels that kind of a contract until they prove their ratings are sustainable. And for the short term, they are going to take a huge ratings and attendence hit next year because enough people are pissed off about the name change. Also, I would not mind going back to California Angels, but Anaheim would likely sue that change to (they want their name in the title for the money they spent on the stadium). LA is a particularly bad change because the people of Orange County have finally felt like they have their own identity separate from LA (with the TV show, a movie, the Angels winning a WS, the Ducks making the Stanley Cup Finals, etc.) that they don't want it thrown back away.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"An the clincher for me, like you mentioned, the Los Angeles Rams played in Anaheim for years!


Yes, that endeavor was quite successful, wasn't it. The LA Rams were so successful that they are now the St. Louis Rams.

Great example

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point about the LA Rams is that no one was saying the Rams had to change their name now that they were in OC. Where was all the cultural identity and "we're not LA" then? And it wasn't having LA in their name that that led them to move to St. Louis. It was a stadium dispute and stupid ownership. Think of how much money they would be making now as the only football team in LA, and one that recently won a Super Bowl too.

(Note, I did not say "the only football team in OC". Ever notice how the NFL, the papers, everyone talks about football coming "back to LA", not "back to OC", even though Anaheim is one possible destination?)

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who gives a f*ck about The LA Rams? They aren't pertinent to this situaion. In fact, sll these examples (Detroit and Auburn Hills, Dallas and Irving, Texas; NY Jets and Giants; LA Rams, etc) mean nothing to me and how it relates to the Anaheim Angels.

ONLY the Angels won a World Championship as the Anaheim Angels... Then changed their name without moving. It is a unique situation. It'd be funny, if it happened to someone else's team.

Stupid idea, Arte. Team Laughingstock. Wonderful.

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