Angels, City Of Anaheim To Open Negotiations Over Lease, Stadium Upgrades
The Angels and the city of Anaheim have "opened negotiations on a deal that would keep the team in town -- and in a newly renovated stadium -- into the next decade and beyond," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. That the two sides have "made it to the bargaining table is a tribute to the burial of an expensive hatchet." When Angels Owner Arte Moreno "slapped a Los Angeles label on the team eight years ago, the city of Anaheim sued." Moreno "won, but not before he spent $8 million to defend himself." But since then, the city and team "worked together to bring the All-Star game and World Baseball Classic to Anaheim." City Mayor Tom Tait said, "It makes sense to move along, to put the past in the past and work for the future. Why wouldn't we want a good relationship with the Angels? We certainly value them tremendously in our city." In the decade that Moreno has owned the Angels, the team's charitable foundation "has donated more than $3 million, primarily to organizations in Anaheim and surrounding communities." Tait said of Moreno, "I think his heart is in the city." The Angels can "leave the city after the 2016 season, in accordance with the terms of the Angel Stadium lease." City officials declined to discuss the negotiations, and the Angels "simply confirmed them." As negotiators for the Angels and the city work toward an agreement, Tait is the "pivotal figure in getting any deal past the City Council." But, as Angel Stadium turns 50 in '16, it is "nice to envision a birthday celebration rather than a somber farewell" (L.A. TIMES, 5/25).
MONEY FOR NOTHING: The L.A. TIMES' Shaikin wrote of the Angels and Dodgers' on-field struggles, "You can almost hear the heartland owners, laughing at the L.A. teams falling on their moneyed faces." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said, "I'm sure of that, because I used to say that." The Dodgers have MLB's largest payroll in history and are in last place, while the Angels spent $375M on RF Josh Hamilton and 1B Albert Pujols and have a losing record "even after winning their eighth consecutive game Sunday." Angels President John Carpino in an e-mail said that the franchise takes "a long-term view" and added that the club "continually modifies its seven- and 10-year business plans." But Shaikin wrote the team "appears to have bumped up against its spending limit." Meanwhile, the Dodgers "might operate above the luxury tax this year, and for a few years to come, but Kasten said that is not part of the long-term business plan." Kasten: "We understand that you can't win by just writing checks. For us, in our market, with this fan base, we felt it was something we needed to do for now. But it is not our long-term strategy. Our long-term strategy is one you might recognize from my history." Shaikin wrote if the Dodgers and Angels "do not sell out their four games this week, that is a referendum on what they got for their money, not whether they should spend it" (L.A. TIMES, 5/27).