12.31.04

The Los Angeles Angels (That Play In Anaheim)

Posted in Baseball at 10:39 am by

Angels owner Artie Moreno continues to battle with the Anaheim city council and according to the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin, there are some crazy compromise solutions being suggested.

 It was standing-room only in the lobby of Anaheim City Hall, with civic leaders and baseball executives gathering for a celebratory news conference. The Walt Disney Co. had agreed to buy the Angels, keep them in town for decades and pay for most of an ambitious and costly stadium renovation.

And, as city officials happily noted on that sunny afternoon in 1996, their team no longer would be known as the California Angels. The city would contribute to the renovation, and in return the team would be called the Anaheim Angels.

“After being known as California for the last 30 years, this team is now going to be called Anaheim,” Mayor Tom Daly said then. “That’s huge.”

Not so huge, however, for the city to insist upon contractual language that would force the team to call itself the Anaheim Angels or market itself using that name. The stadium lease agreement demands only that the team name “include the name Anaheim therein,” providing Angel owner Arte Moreno with a potential loophole to exploit should he decide to call his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“There’s no question the city could have written a lease provision that would have given the team no wiggle room. This provision does give the team some wiggle room,” said Robert Jarvis, professor of law at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and co-author of a sports law textbook.

The City Council has voted to sue if Moreno implements a name change, arguing he would breach the lease. City officials have spurned a change to the Los Angeles Angels and dismissed as ludicrous a compromise proposal: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

No matter how geographically nonsensical that compromise might appear, Moreno could argue it satisfies the requirement that the team name “include the name Anaheim therein.” According to several contract law professors interviewed by The Times, the city would have a reasonable ” but not airtight ” legal case and should thus consider a negotiated solution to a dispute that city officials vow will not be negotiated.

“Imagine the city fathers and mothers trying to explain how they wrote a contract that allowed the team to be called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,” Jarvis said. “And, from the team’s point of view, you wouldn’t want the P.R. nightmare of saying we want to be called X but we have to be called Y. It would be a terrible fiasco for the Angels.

“This is not something for which there is a black-and-white answer. As a result, I have no doubt the parties would reach a compromise. Neither one will want to go to court and lose.”

Yet the city might sue even if Moreno does not change the team name. By selling his team simply as the Angels ” and removing the city name from uniforms, tickets, merchandise and publicity outlets ” city officials contend Moreno has violated the lease. The City Council could authorize such a suit at its Jan. 11 meeting.

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