Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
January 11, 2006
Anaheim and the Angels Kick Off Court Battle
The legal battle between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the city of Anaheim began on Monday. A little over a year ago, the Angels changed their name by highlighting the city of Los Angeles and subordinating the city of Anaheim. Since then, the two sides have jousted in the press over whether or not Anaheim’s legal claim that the Angels name change violates the stadium lease with the city has merit. Things became even more heated when Angels owner Arte Moreno speculated that the team would relocate once the lease with the city expires. In the meantime, the city of Anaheim feels it’s set to lose almost $200 million over the next 10 years and $400 million over the remaining life of the lease due to the decrease in the city's exposure because of the name change.
The city of Anaheim received an early victory on the first day of the trial, as Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos ruled that the city could argue that the Angels broke the spirit of the lease even if they cannot contend that the team broke the exact wording of the agreement. The city plans to call former Angels president Tony Tavares to the stand as they contend that the phrasing in the lease, which states that the Angels must “include the name of Anaheim therein,” was put into the lease because Disney, who owned the team at the time, was thinking of changing the team’s name to the Mighty Angels of Anaheim.
Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Shaikin speculates that when the dust clears and the battle is over, both sides will be on the losing end. He speculates that if the Angels win, they’ll still have the unusual name and they’ll have spent three years' worth of ticket revenue in legal costs. If the city wins, he speculates that Moreno could come up with the money the team will likely have to pay in damages by cutting payroll, resulting in fewer wins and most likely lower attendance.
Owners Expected to Vote in New Reds Owner on January 19
Former Reds owner Carl Lidner is expected to hand over the reigns of the Cincinnati Reds to Robert Castellini on January 19, 2006 when the matter comes up for a vote at the owners' meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. Castellini is a Cincinnati business owner who’s chairman and CEO of Castellini Co., one of the nation's largest wholesale produce distributors. Once the deal is finalized, Catellini’s group will own more than half of the team’s share for a sales price of $270 million.
So far, the Reds have been quiet this offseason and current management is still in place. Whether the change in ownership is a good thing for the team has yet to be seen, and this Reds fan is skeptical as to whether new ownership will turn the team around.
Marlins Road Show Hits Portland, Oregon
In their pursuit to relocate, the Florida Marlins sent a three-member contingent to Portland, Oregon to discuss the prospects of moving the team there. The major roadblock to Portland landing a team is that the mayor is currently opposed to helping fund a stadium, which is the issue that has forced the Marlins to look at moving the team. The Oregon legislature did approve $150 million in 2003 that could be used to help build a new stadium, but that’s well below the $400 million in expected costs. There are ongoing discussions regarding revenue streams tied to the ballpark that Portland will work with to try to continue to bridge the gap.
World Baseball Classic in Jeopardy
The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) is threatening to withdraw its sanction of the inaugural World Baseball Classic unless the U.S. government allows Cuba to take part in the tournament. IBAF president Aldo Notari informed MLB of their decision, and if the IBAF doesn’t sanction the event, it could be cancelled. MLB submitted a new application for Cuba’s entrance into the tournament with the condition that the Cuban team would donate any money it receives from the WBC to hurricane relief. As it stands, the U.S. government has not yet advised MLB of a decision.
Judge to Rule in Two Weeks on Twins Stadium Obligation
In a move that could pave the way towards the Minnesota Twins' relocation, the team asked Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter, Jr. to rule that the Twins have no legal obligation to play in the Metrodome beyond the 2006 season. The Twins' last lease expired at the end of 2003; the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission, however, is arguing that the team has been conducting itself as if it were a long term tenant.
Porter is expected to rule on the case in two weeks, but he’s already stated that no matter how he rules, the losing party will appeal. There’s also speculation that the legal battle could go as high as the Minnesota State Supreme Court.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.