Friday, January 14, 2005

What a Shock, LA Times: "McCourt No Fan of Angels' Name"

In a statement only slightly more jarring than Peter Angelos' opposing the Expos move just 35 miles from Camden Yards was the LA Times article today in which Frank McCourt let it be known he preferred the team based in Orange County be known as "Anaheim Angels". With his manical Eddie Haskel smile painted across his face, McCourt stated "But I know that true Angelenos really know who their team is, and they bleed Dodger blue."

Which begs the question, does he really think the Halos are making a play to steal Dodger fans? I doubt he is quite that naive but it is amazing how he underestimates the intelligence of Southern California baseball fans. McCourt lost out in his bid to buy the Angels and had to mortgage the fillings in his teeth to pay the steep premium for the Blue Crew. For that premium he was rewarded with a $10 million local TV contract from Channel 9 after they had offered the Angels $5.5 million for essentially the same package with similar ratings in '04. Why the disparity? The only reason is that KCAL believes they can get more money from advertisers who believe the LA Dodgers have more cachet than the Anaheim Angels. It's a free-market and kudos to the Dodgers for being able to hoist that much jack from channel 9. But McCourt sees the writing on the wall. The Angels are clearly a threat, not to take away die-hard Dodger fans, but to the Dodgers inflated TV revenues. Arte Moreno's plan is now in motion and step one was the name change. It really does not matter all that much if the name even sticks, people are already associating the Angels with Los Angeles just by arguing the name. Moreno has the money to keep his team competitive for the next ten years and to market them aggressively all over Southern California. Meanwhile McCourt will keep smiling and make quotes like "The true Angelenos, the true fans, are not going to be persuaded by or alter their behavior based on some marketing campaign," Really? Then why are people spending all that money on TV advertising to fund the Dodger broadcasts if they did not think their 30 seconds might change some minds and buying habits? Wake up Frankie, you are in a high-stakes marketing game against a man who made his fortune that way. No doubt McCourt feels Los Angeles was seeded to him by virtue of the Dodgers price tag and the 'LA' on their caps. But the feisty Moreno is not content (as the Autry's and Mousketeers were) to stay safely behind the Orange Curtain, taking those wedge of fans between LA & San Diego Counties. No, Moreno & Company will be staking claim to Orange & LA counties as well as San Bernadino, Riverside and eventually San Diego.

Here in Arizona we got a first-hand peek at the type of cut-throat marketing Moreno is capable of. He put together a deal with Goodyear, a town on the western fringe of the Phoenix metro, to build a new Spring Training complex for the Angels and gave the city of Tempe notice that they would be leaving. After several months of wrangling Tempe kicked in $20 million in stadium improvements and Moreno signed a new 20 year lease. This was the equivalent of choosing Huntington Beach over Yucaipa. A no-brainer but Moreno still out-maneuvered the Tempe City Council and he will likely get the better of Anaheim as well.


Blogger Josh said...

You must understand how much Southern California operates as Moreno does. The people of Orange County hate being associated with LA.

The reason the Dodgers have more fans and better TV contracts is that they have a history of winning and better year of winning and equivalent ratings is not going to get you the same long term contract, you have to prove you can sustain both of those (the Clippers don't have the same ratings, or even ticket prices, as the Lakers despite having LA in the name).

The Angels were at near full capacity in their stadium last year, and this name change will only cause people not to show up. Their are more people in OC that will protest this change than there are in LA that will decide, "Hey, NOW the Angels look interesting." If the Angels aren't a winning team this year (a definitie possibility) AND keep this stupid name, I predict that a lot of people will leave in droves and not come back for a long time. Moreno has destroyed all the good will he had created in the year and a half he owned the team and has gone from one of the best owners to one of the worst.

9:08 AM  

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