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Angels lease talks: Team says Anaheim name isn't coming back; mayor says fine

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

As the Angels prepare to negotiate a potential new lease with the city of Anaheim, the team would like to make one thing perfectly clear: The team name will remain the Los Angeles Angels.

In 2005, two years after he bought the team then known as the Anaheim Angels, owner Arte Moreno changed the name. The city of Anaheim sued and lost, and the Angels say any proposal to reinstate the Anaheim name would be a nonstarter.

"The name was already addressed several years ago," Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said Thursday. "It is not up for discussion."

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu called the name issue "a distraction."

"We are not going into negotiations with that as the make-or-break issue that determines whether baseball stays in Anaheim," he said in a statement. The Angels can opt out of their lease by Dec. 31, or continue to play under their current lease through 2029.

Sidhu added: "We know the name issue still resonates in our community. But it is a distraction from what is really important: preserving baseball in Anaheim with a deal that is good for our city and that brings lasting benefits for residents for years to come."

 

The issue arose during a community forum Wednesday night, when Anaheim City Councilman Jose Moreno, who is not related to the Angels owner, said he wanted any new deal to mandate the team call itself by the Anaheim name. A resident responded by wondering why the city appeared to have taken the name issue off the table even before the start of negotiations.

"What is the privilege (of owning a team) worth," Moreno asked, "if they don't put our name on it?"

In its 2005 lawsuit, the city asked for $373 million in damages, based on projected losses in media and tourism revenue over the life of the lease that extends through 2029. In its 2006 verdict, the jury awarded nothing.

In 2005, after the city had failed to obtain an injunction against the name change, a panel of experts told The Times that the annual damages could range from $500,000 to $15 million.

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