Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Arte's Not-So-Smoking Gun
The Angels submitted what they called "the proverbial smoking gun," a copy of a lease draft dated April 17, 1996. In a memorandum of understanding dated April 3, 1996, Disney — then owner of the California Angels — agreed to change the team name to "include the name Anaheim therein." That language is identical to what appears in the lease, dated May 14, 1996.Madness, I tells ya, madness.
The draft filed by the Angels includes a handwritten notation — allegedly on the city's behalf — scratching out that language and substituting "the Anaheim Angels." That alteration, rejected by Disney, is "exactly what [the city] wants from this court," the Angels argue. In the absence of such language, they contend, they can change their name from Anaheim Angels without breaching the contract.
The city disagrees, arguing neither Anaheim nor Disney ever discussed identifying the team with another geographical area. In previous court declarations, city officials have acknowledged Disney's unwillingness to approve the restrictive Anaheim Angels name in the lease, and one expert said the draft is far from a smoking gun.
"I don't think it's anything dramatically new," said Carl Bjerre, who teaches contract law at the University of Oregon. "The fact that Disney was wanting some flexibility does not establish that Disney was wanting enough flexibility so as to call the team the Los Angeles Angels."