Tuesday, March 08, 2005

So Much for Fan Outrage: Angels Sell Record 26,000 Season Seats

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whose off-season name-change from "Anaheim Angels" sparked debate and vitriol from fans, media and bloggers, are in the midst of their most successful season-ticket sales campaign in history. The Angels have sold more than 1,000 season tickets than they did in 2004, despite the threat from some fans to boycott if they went through with the name change. So far the Angels have sold a total of 2.3 million tickets (season seats plus individual game tickets) which means the Angels should easily draw 3 million fans for the third year in a row and likely the most in club history.

In a closely related story, the Angels lead the Dodgers in the battle for ticket sale supremacy by approximately 300,000 seats. Last year the Halos and Blue Crew combined for 4.3 million in ticket sales and if both teams remain competitive in their respective divisions, should come close to equaling or surpassing that figure in 2005. Baseball rules supreme in Southern California and the Angels can confidently say, LA is plenty big enough for two teams to thrive in.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not crediting the name change with this surge in ticket sales. Ticket sales and TV revenue are two very different animals and success with each are both intertwined and independent. The equation starts with winning which the Angels have done now for two out of the past three years. Really the key year was '04 after they stunk it up in '03 following the Championship Season. Two losing seasons in a row would likely have erased a lot of the good will fans were feeling after 2002. But Moreno brilliantly came in and not only signed star players (Guererro, Colon, Escobar) but cut beer prices. The team then went on to win their first division title in 18 years and the fans are now solidly behind this team.

While ticket sales are essentially a straw poll on a team's popularity today, TV revenues are more like the stock market in that they try to project the popularity and value of a team in the future. The difference is, only a handful of entities will get to purchase the "stock" of Halo TV coverage. Channel 9 has taken themselves out of the bidding, instead betting on the tradition and history of LA's other team (the Dodgers). As recently as three months ago when this deal was announced, members of the media and a lot of fans probably agreed that this was the prudent move. Especially if you hypothesize that Channel 9 knew of Moreno's name-change plans and flat-out bet against him. But now in the bright Arizona sunshine of March things are starting to look a bit different. Consider:

* LA Angels has seeped into baseball's vernacular and the mindset of the Angels as a big-market team does indeed seem to be changing. As a personal example, I was perusing my USA Today Sports section today and was temporarily befuddled when "Anaheim" was not at the top of the "AL" baseball column. After gathering myself I gazed lower to find "Los Angeles" and there they were. But more interestingly, I continued scanning the page lower past "Minnesota" and then "New York" and for the first time I thought of the Angels as being more in league with the Yankees than the Twins. This was tied directly to seeing the words "Los Angeles" and nothing else. Only my own, inexact to be sure, experiment but I challenge you to think about how you are viewing this team and what other teams you liken them to. Cincinnati or Chicago? The Dodgers or the Diamondbacks?

* The Angels have stood-up to the biggest bully in sports: Scott Boras. The man who single-handedly destroyed the Texas Rangers for the better part of three years was trying to hold the Angels hostage for their first-round draft pick. Instead, GM Bill Stoneman walked away and will force the kid nick-named "Dream" to eat a year's salary. What's more, people have now cast the fair-hair kid from Long Beach and his Evil Agent (or is it, 'Agent of Evil'?) as the villains while the Angels are now the heroes. Heroes to fans, other owners and sane people from all walks of life. This was on the heels of the Angels shipping off their second best hitter because he was not an "Angels" guy. In contrast, the Dodgers coddled their malcontent player (Milton Bradley) which sends a very different message to the other players. Quality men like Steve Finley are now attracted to Anaheim where they know they will be surrounded by teammates with similar ethics and goals.

* While the Angels have either stayed at a level similar to '04 if not outright improved, their division has gotten weaker with top rival Oakland losing their two best starting pitchers. The Dodgers have definitely taken a step back talent wise and every other team in their division has improved.

* While Angel ownership has a defined vision to increase revenue and maintain the team at a very high level with a balance of free-agents and quality prospects, Frank McCourt's only apparent strategy is to see how long he can keep 3 million fans buying tickets while he turns the Dodgers into a southern version of the Oakland A's (without the stud pitching, prospects or Billy Beane).

Over the past three months the Angels have further defined themselves as an organization by what they have done and what they have refused to do. Arte Moreno is crafting a team that was plagued with an image of being "chokers" (even after the '02 World Series win, the Angels were picked by most everyone to not make the playoffs in '03...and they didn't) and second class citizens to the Dodgers into a team expected to win. The transformation is not complete but the story of LA's two baseball teams is a contrast in styles that could not have been written by any Hollywood studio. Channel 9 bet on the favorite but the long-term outlook for the Angels calls for high dividends in the years to come for Halo fans and the broadcast partners smart enough to join-up with them now.


Anonymous Vecino said...

I just want to say that I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I generally like your thoughts and observations -- the present post not excluded.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

new to blogging...i have to say though, out of the six or so angels blogs i've found, yours is probably the most well written. i always enjoy reading your opinions on the state of angels baseball. the thoughts are arranged, organized, and defended very well. (yeah, ima teechur)

this is not to say that the others are crap, cause they're not, but i always enjoy good writing.

thanks for the work you do...

p.s. you really should write more often.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Matchosan said...

Damn you are good. You have the other Blogers beat by a mile. I'm glad now that I didn't start one. Can't wait for the season to start, so I'll be able to read all your good vibes on the Halo's. Why don't the other ones link to you?

Keep up the good words Harold.
(Look it up:http://www.behindthename.com/php/view.php?name=harold)

10:27 PM  
Blogger Uncle Al said...

One of the many things I like about Moreno is that he reads and answers correspondence. (OK, I know, it's likely a subordinate who writes back over his signature, but still my letter gets read before being round-filed.)

Anyway, in response to my earlier missive to Arte about the fact this will be the 100th year of Angels baseball, he wrote back:

"...we are aware [that 2005 will be] the 100th year of Angels baseball. However, we are still working on the proper recognition for the website, radio and television."

Just imagine the look on McCourt's face when he first hears or reads the ad about 100 Years of Angels Baseball! Ha! Ha!

P.S. To save readers the chore, the Angels have played 55 years in the PCL (1903-1957) and 44 years in the AL (1961-2004), total 99 years. 2005 makes 100.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Vecino said...

Uncle Al,

Re: 100 years of Angels baseball, imagine the look on McCourt's face (or the face of most any Dodgers fan) if he knew where (it appears that) O'Malley got that ubiquitous Dodgers logo that features an 'L' interlocked with an 'A'. (I guess you know that O'Malley bought the PCL Angels and so, presumably, rights to any Angels logos.)

Check these out:

Los Angeles Dodgers Cap used from 1958 until Present -- http://www.sportslogos.net/logo.php?l_id=4&t_id=63&logo=1137

Los Angeles Angels Primary used from 1963 until 1964 -- http://baseball-almanac.com/logos/angels3.jpg

Los Angeles Angels Cap used from 1961 until 1964 -- http://www.sportslogos.net/logo.php?l_id=4&t_id=591&logo=508

Los Angeles Angels logo 1942 -- http://www.logoserver.com/baseball/LAAngels42.GIF

Los Angeles Angels Logos 1912, 1943, 1947, 1956 -- http://www.logoserver.com/baseball/LAAngels12434756.GIF

* * * * *

(Unofficial - Recently designed by an Angels fan) -- http://www.angelswin.com/article_images_05/lalogo_lg.jpg

9:42 AM  
Blogger Uncle Al said...

I have a 1956 Angel cap that I wear from time to time. Those who comment usually wonder why the "A" on my "Dodger" cap is red.

The 1956 Angel cap logo is shown in the following Wikipedia article:


1956 was the last year Phil Wrigley owned the team. He sold the Angels to The O'Malley shortly before the 1957 season, who promised the other PCL owners that he would continue the operating the team as Wrigley had.

The 1957 cap logo was identical, except that it was (surprise) all white.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Vecino said...

Great stuff from Wikipedia. A lot I didn't know.

Must be sweet wearing that cap and correcting those Dodgers fans!

11:24 AM  
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