Business of Baseball Report

Anaheim/Angels Court Battle Begins

Lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit between the city of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gave their opening statements last Friday as the lawsuit between the two parties got underway.  Both Angels owner Arte Moreno and Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle attended.  Anaheim city co-counsel explained to the jurors that they could consider not just the actual wording of the lease but also the intent of the parties that negotiated the terms.  Todd Theodora, co-counsel for the Angels, countered by showing a document with 41 name suggestions that Disney, the owner of the team when the lease was negotiated, was considering.  Several names didn’t have the word “Anaheim.”

The jury was selected earlier in the week and Moreno was pulling out all the stops in the jury selection process.  He hired Jo-Ellan Dimitrius as a jury consultant.  Dimitrius became nationally renowned after she advised the O.J. Simpson defense team on how to select the jury that would eventually acquit the former NFL star.  Five men and seven women make up the jury; only one is a resident of Anaheim.  The legal battle resumed on Tuesday after taking the long weekend off.

Devil Rays to Improve “Fan Experience”

Darcy Raymond, former brand manager of corporate marketing programs at Proctor & Gamble, became the newest front office hire by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  An old man on the staff at 31, he’s older then the president (Matt Silverman), executive vice president (Andrew Friedman) and chief of staff (Brian Auld) in the team’s front office.

Raymond’s title is a unique one in baseball.  He’ll be the team’s vice president of branding and fan experience.  Part of his agenda is to create “a very unique kind of mini-Cooperstown baseball carnival feel” at the Devil Rays’ current home, Tropicana Field.  He also hopes to improve customer service at the stadium and to allow the fans to get to know the players better.

Still No Progress in Minnesota on Stadium Deal

Last week, a meeting between Minnesota Governor Tim Plawlenty and both Hennepin County executives and the Minnesota Twins at the governor’s mansion appeared to be more upsetting than comforting.  Jerry Bell, the lead negotiator for the Twins, said it best with “Nothing was decided today at all.”

The governor’s spokesman, Brian McClung, vowed that the governor would have additional meetings with the two parties.  In the meantime, the Twins are trying to get legal clarification that they’re not obligated to play in the Metrodome after the 2006 season and the Hennepin County sales tax increase that would be used to fund a new stadium appears to be on the legislative backburner.

Kansas City Stadium Bill Faces Resistance

In December, the Missouri Department of Economic Development announced an agreement that would provide up to $50 million in tax credits to go towards renovations to both the homes of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Royals.  Governor Matt Blunt gave the plan his blessing, but it now appears that two rural congressmen are working to make sure the bill never sees the light of day.

Wes Shoemyer and Frank Barnitz introduced legislation last week that would prevent the state from allowing those tax credits to go toward professional sports teams.  They claim that the governor was trying to circumvent the legislative process by agreeing to the credits, which would only need the approval of a 12-member development board.  The two lawmakers say that the $50 million would be better spent on things on like education and improving access to health care.

D.C. Stadium Bill Still in Limbo

It seems like the Washington, D.C. council hasn’t run out of ideas.  The council has continued to meet to try to resolve the stadium lease to make all parties happy, but as the clock ticks, that appears to look more and more like an impossibility.  They’ve even thrown around the idea of allowing MLB to build the stadium, but I doubt that will fly.  In the meantime, the council has considered hiring an outside consultant to completely renegotiate the deal that brought the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C.

D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp feels she has the votes needed to pass the lease agreement, but it would take a cap of $535 million on construction costs to get it approved.  MLB Chief Executive Office Bob DuPuy has already stated that the league shouldn’t be responsible for cost overruns, and councilman Jack Evans, a key supporter of the new ballpark, feels the league won’t accept the cap.

In the meantime, Mark Tuohey, the head of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, is optimistic.  He’s the lead negotiator for the city, and he feels a deal will be signed, sealed and delivered by early February.

Chicago White Sox Reap Benefit of World Series Win

Due to unprecedented demand because of last year’s World Series title, both full- and partial-season ticket packages—which come with an option to buy postseason tickets for the Sox home games—have sold out.  If you’re a White Sox fan and you didn’t buy a partial-season ticket package prior to January 9 or didn’t buy a full-season ticket package before January 15, you’re out of luck as far as having guaranteed playoff tickets assuming the White Sox make it again.  The season ticket total for the team surpassed 20,000 for the first time in team history.  As early as 2002, average attendance was barely 20,000 fans a game.

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