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ANGELS LOCKED OUT OF MAGIC KINGDOM AS DISNEY DEAL DISSOLVES
Published March 14, 1996
Walt Disney Co. has abandoned its plan to purchase a controlling interest in the Angels, walking away from negotiations with the city of Anaheim over the renovation of Anaheim Stadium, according to this morning's L.A. TIMES. Both sides confirmed yesterday "they had reached an impasse." Disney Sports Enterprises President Tony Tavares: "This deal is over. The negotiations have ended." The "surprise announcement," which came as final details were being worked out, "stunned city leaders." The announcement forces owners Gene and Jackie Autry to find a new buyer for the club. However, acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said the "deal might not be dead." Anaheim City Manager James Ruth said several issues caused the breakdown, with the two biggest stumbling blocks being Anaheim's desire to bring the NFL back and its proposal to build a "Sportstown Anaheim." City officials had hoped to anchor Sportstown with the renovated stadium. Disney set a March 17 deadline to reach an accord on renovating Anaheim Stadium into a baseball-only facility -- contingent on its January bid to purchase the team. But Disney officials said they were not comfortable extending that deadline (Greg Hernandez, L.A. TIMES, 3/14). NEXT? Former MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said he is "ready to go" in an attempt to purchase the Angels. A Ueberroth- led group failed in a previous attempt to buy the team (L.A. TIMES, 3/14). The team's Big A lease ends in 2001, and the Autrys contend it is "one of the worst in baseball" with little stadium revenue going to the team (L.A. TIMES, 3/14). This morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL reports Seahawks Owner Ken Behring is among the parties interested in purchasing the Angels. A Behring spokesperson confirmed he has approached the city about putting a group together (Thomas King, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/14). In Toronto, William Houston reports O's GM Pat Gillick tried to put together an ownership group for the Angels before Disney entered, but it is mentioned whether Gillick would still be interested in the club (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/14). WHO'S TO BLAME? In L.A., Mike Penner writes, "After 41 years of Disney telling the city of Anaheim to jump and Anaheim asking 'How high?' the city finally came up with a different response Wednesday, and it involved someone else going out and taking a flying leap." Penner notes Disney didn't want "any part" of Sportstown, and that the 12,000 parking spaces that would be eliminated from Anaheim Stadium under such a project were unacceptable (L.A. TIMES, 3/14). WOULD THE NBA BE A BETTER FIT? Penner also writes, "The NBA -- even the Clippers -- intrigues The Mouse. Fewer salaries, controlled environment, cartoon uniforms, more stoppages of play for crazed mascots to scare small children -- it's Disney's kind of place" (L.A. TIMES, 3/14).