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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.

 

Sidhu said the host cities of the New England Patriots and Golden State Warriors benefit even without their name on the team. The Patriots play in Foxborough, Mass. The Warriors are moving to San Francisco after 48 seasons in Oakland.

"We see national and global exposure from having the Angels in Anaheim," Sidhu said. "Our city is mentioned nearly every time the team is on TV, and aerial shots of the stadium and our theme parks help promote our city to the world.

"If we do this right, Anaheim will continue to see significant exposure as a Major League Baseball city."

The Angels moved to Anaheim in 1966, after playing four seasons at Dodger Stadium, and changed their name from Los Angeles Angels to California Angels. Before settling in Orange County, the Angels first considered a move to Long Beach, but passed when that city insisted the team call itself the Long Beach Angels.

Long Beach again is interested in luring the Angels, and the team says it plans to decide between Long Beach and Anaheim by year's end. Long Beach spokesman Kevin Lee said Thursday his city would be "very open to discussing team naming options."

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