Sunday, December 25, 2005

City of Anaheim Wants $300 Million for Angel Name Change

The LA Times reported that the amount the City of Anaheim is seeking from the Angels is $300 million due to the loss of "hundreds of millions of impressions" of the city name as a result of the Angels changing their name to "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" in lieu of "Anaheim Angels". The trial between the team and the city is due to go to court January 9th and the city is hoping that a jury will find the Angels have broken the 'spirit' of their agreement with the city to include the name "Anaheim" within their official name. If so, Judge Peter Polos would likely order the Angels to restore the "Anaheim" portion of their name to the forefront while dropping the Los Angeles designation altogether.

Is anyone else surprised this argument is still being carried on? Has the ship not sailed and everyone pretty much gotten over the clunky LA of A deal? Apparently not as Mayor Curt Pringle continues to push this issue into court is a desperate attempt to save political face.

A couple of points should be clarified however:

1. The City of Anaheim will never see one red dime from the Angels organization. The $300 million figure is complete blue sky and how anyone say with a remote amount of accuracy what the lost "impressions" are through 2029 (when the lease expires) is preposterous. Further, what is the cost and/or value of an "impression"? What if I, as a result of all of this, now have a negative impression? Does that detract from the value of having "Anaheim" associated with "Angels"? Does that lower the $300 million figure? If so then the Disney years probably put the city in a severe 'impressions deficit' in terms of negative impact.

2. The "real" numbers of the Arte Moreno era are far more impressive than the fantasy tripe dreamed up by Anaheim's attorneys. In court papers already filed the Angels say the city has received more than $5 million in revenue sharing over the past three years. Compare that to the Disney years when the city received just $400,000 over SIX seasons. But let's give Disney some due, the team did, despite Michael Eisner's best efforts, win a World Series in their last season of ownership despite the gaudy "For Sale" sign posted in front of Edison Field (now Angels Stadium) for most of 2001 & 2002. That definitely gave the Moreno team a boost heading into their first season but the last two years of ticket sales were because the Angels were putting a good product on the field in terms of a competitive ball club. But c'mon, a 1200% increase in revenue sharing in half the time and the city is complaining?

This begs the question, would the City be happier had the team stayed the course with the name but instead of investing in players like Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon they blew themselves up ala the Marlins? Or worse, the LA Dodgers? I, speaking as a fan, am glad they have decided to behave as a big market team by signing great players. Let Minnesota, Oakland and Florida auction off their expensive talent -- I want to keep my Vlad, Barts and K-Rods.

I guess what every tax payer in the city of Anaheim has to ask themselves is that if they had a client who pissed you off with a personal slight but they just earned you $5 million in half the time a previous client had earned you $400,000, how would they treat that client? Would you be like the city of Anaheim and sue them, calling them names or would you pick up the phone and say 'thanks'? Well, if you are a politician and you don't materially share in the windfall you sue. The only commodity politicos trade in is favors and how they look and nothing buys free newscast airtime like a salicious law suit. Money is a garish side-issue and whether or not something 'paid off' economically for the voters is beside-the-point --- if you don't look good.

3. Suppose for a minute the city wins their case (and it is a long shot). The Judge says the Angels must be called the 'Anaheim Angels' and Pringle & Co "win". What happens next? Does Moreno throw in the towel and go about business as usual? Doubtful. I would suspect Moreno would look into exiting the Angel lease early. There is at least one provision where he can do so around 2016 -- now a mere 10 years away. Just about the right amount of time to find a new location, purchase some property and develop an entire stadium, shopping center, entertainment complex and bedroom community. I for one would feel a bit awkward for Anaheim. Forcing your name on someone who does not want it is just a little creepy in this day and age. But Anaheim wants their money and the name too. It is not good enough to host a perennial playoff team whose associated glory brings untold positive 'impressions'. If the city of Anaheim wants to know what happens to a midling metropolis that loses such a tenant, just check in with Irving, Texas in about five years. The Cowboys will be moving to Arlington in the next couple of years after which the number of times the city of Irving is mentioned on a newscast, web page or print media will roughly match that of Ozark, Alabama. Not that Anaheim is a second-class city, they will still have Disney. But in sports terms they will fall behind Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Arlington and Omaha in media coverage and positive buzz. Anaheim will be a small convention city whose biggest performers will be college basketball and the Wiggles.

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