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Friday, February 18, 2005

Arte's Big Ideas

The Wanderer

Oh well I’m the type of guy who will never settle down
Where pretty girls are well, you know that I’m around
I kiss ’em and I love’em ’cause to me they’re all the same
I hug ’em and I squeeze ’em they don’t even know my name
They call me the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around...
Bill Shaikin's piece today in the Times, "Moreno Has More Big Ideas in Mind" announced Arte's not a little unhappy with Anaheim's unexpected persistence in pursuing a lawsuit to force the Angels to stay an Anaheim team.
Although Moreno said Thursday he remains committed to Anaheim, he also said he has been contacted by representatives of other locations interested in luring the Angels.

"Yes, people talk to us," Moreno said. "Obviously, we're in a lawsuit with the city of Anaheim. Why wouldn't everybody else around start thinking that we're in an old stadium and we're not happy?"

Angel Stadium opened in 1966, with a $118-million renovation completed in 1998. The Angels' lease extends through 2029, but they can terminate the agreement in 2016 by paying an estimated $12-million fee.

Moreno, asked whether the lawsuit might prompt him to consider searching for a new stadium and a way out of Anaheim before 2016, refused to comment.

Disney and the Angels put $118M into the stadium in 1996, and after Arte put in new state-of-the-art scoreboards; is that an "old stadium"? Maybe other people think that, but I can hardly imagine cities flocking to the Angels. Instead, if I were some other city thinking about acquiring a baseball team -- say, Las Vegas -- I'd wonder about an owner who's so quick to break the team's lease in spirit if not in the legal letter. But that's okay; it's all a big experiment, you see, and Arte doesn't quite know where all this LAAoA stuff will end up:
Moreno said that changing the name from Anaheim Angels should help broaden the team's appeal and generate more revenue by reminding broadcasters and advertisers the team plays in the second-largest media market in the country, although he acknowledged he does not yet have "hard evidence" to back up his theory.
I wonder: he's certainly got people laughing, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the impression he had hoped to leave behind. But maybe he figures after the season starts, it won't matter what city the homeless Angels call home; after all, you can get better deals for yourself if you're the one writing the checks.

Overcoming A "Little League" Deal

So it turns out: now we have talk of Arte buying a TV station, or possibly starting a cable network. I've long thought this was the way to go; so has Arte. The public denunciations begin:
He described the Angels' current media deals as "a Little League media package," claiming the Milwaukee Brewers have a better television deal than the Angels and that the Seattle Mariners make three times as much in radio revenue.

With Channel 9 dropping the Angels in favor of the Dodgers next season, he said the team could buy a television station or join with a cable or satellite company in starting one.

He noted the Mets, who have partnered with Comcast and Time Warner on a channel to debut next year, signed Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez over the winter. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the teams that generate the most revenue in the major leagues, each operate a cable channel.

"If you're not looking at what the Yankees and Boston are doing, and now what the Mets are doing, and the Cubs and Braves with superstations, then you've got your head in the sand," Moreno said.

"[A] Little League deal"? Yeah, probably. And I have no doubt but that owning a cable network will leapfrog Arte over the Dodgers in terms of revenue. Noting that the team has increased revenue by 50% in the time the club has been under his ownership, tripling ad revenues, the Yankees now "only" have twice the Angels' revenues.

That's huge.

Folks, if you want to know why Oakland and even Seattle sometimes look down here with green eyes, that's it in a nutshell. Baseball is a sport and a business; the best clubs, like the Yankees, Red Sox, and historically, the Dodgers, do both well. I've never been opposed to fixing the historic mismanagement the Angels suffered from, even if it means our opponents -- and face it, many of the fans -- will alternately cringe and chuckle when contorting their way through the LAAoA quagmire. But if it means the Angels can sign high-dollar-value prospects like Jered Weaver, if it means the Angels have the means to pick up a Vlad Guerrero or two in the offseason, so be it.

Sounds like a pathetic attempt to scare the Anaheim city council into dropping their suit. Whatever.
Could be. It could also be a media manufactured kerfluffle. The city of Anaheim is spending money on something they probably will regret.
I'm sure when he means "other locations" it's not minor league markets like Las Vegas, but rather other cities in the greater Los Angels metropolitan area.

You gotta wonder. Gene Autry made his fortune in broadcasting. The Disney empire has a few years of experience in broadcasting. Neither of them had a f--king clue!

Here a guy who made his billion selling billboards for Chrissake comes in and he is the one making plans for media mega-deals.
I agree with Adam and Uncle Al. It sounds like he is trying to pressure Anaheim. Also, if he did move the team to a place like Vegas, it would look really silly to have called them LA of Anaheim in the first place...you would lose all the market identification that you were trying to pick up.

As far as a cable channel, what do they play during the offseason on channels like YES. And what do they play during the regular season when they aren't doing pre-game shows, games, and post-game shows? Is it something like ESPN Classic? If that is the case I can see how teams like Boston and the Yankees can make a cable channel work better than the Angels can. The Dodgers should really look into this soon. If the Angels beat them to it, that would be pretty embarrassing.
I'm sure he could just as easily name them the Los Angeles Angels of Las Vegas. Is Vegas close enough to be considered part of the larger LA metro area?
In addition to the Yankees, YES has the New Jersey Nets, and broadcast Yankee hagiographies in the offseason. You can find out more about them here.

NESN, the Red Sox's network, also airs the Boston Bruins (in years when they're playing), as well as college hockey and basketball, and outdoors programs.

Finding programming isn't that tough, I would imagine. On the other hand, Disney couldn't get enough to start a network when Fox was threatening ESPN with FSW, so there's precedent. What you maybe forget, Alchemist, is that the Dodgers had their own network, but Frank McCourt's purchase of the Dodgers cut them off from that source of revenue. Now that Fox is divorced from the Dodgers, all bets are off. In combination with Adelphia, Comcast, and Time-Warner, he'd have three of the biggest cable providers in Southern California covered, and none of them having to pay out to Fox for the privilege.
I belong to a number of Angel e-groups on Yahoo, and post on a few blogs, and by this time can't remember what I've posted where. I don't think I've posted this here:

The ONE guy at the city of Anaheim that I really feel sorry for is the poor boob whose job it is to convince the National Football League to place its (ahem) Los Angeles team in Anaheim, while down the corridor his colleagues are suing their baseball tenant over the same issue.

I know officially the NFL spokesmen have said this won't affect the decision-making process, but I for one don't believe it for one minute.

The only thing these sorry pinheads in Anaheim are going to accomplish, other than wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, is chasing the NFL away to Carson or elsewhere. Hell, they may chase away the Angels
Good point, Uncle Al.
While Arte might enjoy naming them the LA Angels of LV, the city is WAY out of the metro area. They are only connected by freeways, and it is a few hours drive from anywhere in the LA metro area to anywhere in the LV metro area. As for doing something like this in a new city...I don't think it will happen again, period. Any new stadium lease agreements signed will probably say in no uncertain terms what the place name must be (excepting for those currently named after states).

I don't really count Fox's ownership of the Dodgers and their ownership of FSW in the same vain as the YES network. Fox never really promoted it as the station for the Dodgers. Because Fox owns several FSNs, they have tried to apply national programming and local programming at the same time. If this national programming included Dodgers games, it would be different, but instead they have games for whatever the local team in the area is.
Like I wrote in an earlier post, the chances of Arte going to Las Vegas or any other "wannabe" market like Portland or Sacramento are about zero.

Arte paid a small market price for the major market Angels -- hell, he even got Disney down on the price. The team may well be worth twice what he paid for it at this point. To move the team to a backwater (sorry Vegas, that's the reality) would immediately destroy the team's value.

Now, on the other hand, the prospect of a waterfront ballpark in, say, Long Beach? That might get some attention from Tio Arturo - - -
Arte is not going to move the team out of the L.A. market, in my opinion. Why would he spend all this time, effort, money, ticking off of fans, etc. to grow his team in the second-largest media market in the nation, only to pull up stakes and leave it? That makes no sense. Think about it -- the owner of a professional sports franchise is in a legal battle with its host city. Do you honestly think that other cities who WANT a sports team wouldn't at least pick up the phone? It's like teams around the trading deadline calling Stoneman and saying, "Hey, whaddya want for that Vlad fellow?" Does that mean Stoneman is shopping Vlad? No! It means someone is taking the initiative and making a phone call, seeing what comes of it. It doesn't mean Arte is going to move the team. This is a story that was started by a sports writer, and it's quickly taken on a lame life. (Sorry for the rant -- I'm on cold medication. LOL)

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