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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forbes: Baseball's Best Boss

Via BTF (and I had thought to make comment on it when it appeared — I think — at Halos Heaven a couple days back), a Forbes piece on Arte Moreno:
After a spring training game in march between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a half-dozen fans were waiting outside in the warm Arizona afternoon sun to catch autographs from players heading to the parking lot. Back inside Tempe's Diablo Stadium a crowd, six wide and eight rows deep, waited for Arturo Moreno, the Angels' owner, to sign baseballs and hats and pose for pictures. Moreno told his wife, Carole, he should be finished within minutes so they could drive home together. He stayed for another hour, signing almost as many autographs for Dodgers fans as he did for Angels fans.

Not very often does a professional baseball team owner get more fan attention than his star athletes, and even less often does the owner give it back, especially to fans of another team. Moreno is not your typical owner, save for the fact that he's wealthy (worth $800 million by forbes estimates). From the day he bought the Angels from Walt Disney Co. ( DIS - news - people ) in 2003, he has changed the team's image and become in many ways its face. In the process he has turned what had been a team with a small-market mentality into one of the sport's most valuable franchises.

Almost everything Moreno has done has been in the service of winning over fans and, as he says, "putting butts in seats." The Angels, with the best record in baseball last year, offer the third-cheapest visit to the park. He has cut ticket and food prices at Angel Stadium and dropped the price of draft beer from $8.50 to $6.50. Most teams charge $20 or more for souvenir caps. The Angels charge $7. In his first spring training in Tempe, Moreno couldn't understand why a section of great seats between third base and left field always remained vacant while people crowded into the section farther out in left field. Moreno walked over to the ticket vendors, who told him that people always asked for the cheapest seats. The outer section was $6. So Moreno cut the empty $12 seats to $6. "Now they're the first to go. Should it have been $8? Maybe. But now their butts are in there. They'll go buy a beer or a dog. We got them in the stadium."

Best. Owner. In. Sports.

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Stop rubbing it in, Rob! I've already been jealous for years.

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