The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would have the freedom to throw out the last two words of that long moniker under the terms of a deal before the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday night.
At issue is the baseball team’s lease on 47-year-old Angel Stadium, which runs through 2029 but could be terminated by the team as soon as 2016.
The council will consider a deal that will, in part, delay the team’s option to leave Anaheim until 2019. The delay would allow the two sides time to come to an agreement that could keep the team in the Orange County city until 2057.
Part of the deal would allow the team to have “absolute control and exclusive rights” of its name — which could result in a name change to, simply, the “Los Angeles Angels.”
The team’s owner, Arte Moreno, had changed its name from “Anaheim Angels” to “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” in 2005, prompting controversy and bringing on a lawsuit from the city that was decided in the team’s favor.
The possibility of a name change brought a less-than-pleased reaction from Angels supporters at the stadium Tuesday.
“Somebody told me they might go back to Los Angeles Angels — and that’s it? You’ve got to be kidding me,” fan Frank Gentile said.
Others were more sympathetic to the team.
“I understand it from a marketing point of view, but I’d kind of like it to be Anaheim, myself,” said Ralph Stricker.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait found the deal before the council Tuesday “outrageous,” according to the Orange County Register. The plan was unveiled when City Council agenda documents were released last Friday.
“Extending the opt-out clause makes it easier for the Angels to move if we don’t do everything they want,” Tait told the newspaper. “This may be the biggest asset the city has, and yet the public is barely finding out about this as we head into a holiday weekend.”
Part of the agreement before the council Tuesday would allow the Angels to develop land surrounding the city-owned stadium for $1 per year for 66 years.
Tait told KTLA he wants to keep the Angels in Anaheim, but feels the deal is too generous to the team.
“For a dollar a year for 66 years is pretty much like signing the deed over,” Tait said.
Revenue from development would allow the team to pay for $130 million to $150 million in repairs to the stadium, according to the city report. The city would no longer be responsible for $600,000 in annual maintenance costs under the deal.
About $120 million is spent in Anaheim annually because the Angels are in the city, and baseball directly provides 1,982 jobs, according to a report to the council.
“From a convention and tourism standpoint, Angels Baseball increases the desirability of our destination, enhances our marketing efforts, and reinforces the ‘Anaheim’ brand image,” the city report stated.
If the Angels left Anaheim, the stadium would likely be closed, the city report stated. Four years older than Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium is the fourth oldest in Major League Baseball, according to the report.
The items before the council include nonbinding memorandums of understanding creating a framework for future lease negotiations, which could result in a new agreement with different terms. Council approval would signal that those lease negotiations could begin.