Experts: Name change might stimulate revenue
LOS ANGELES -- What's in a name change? Apparently, plenty of money.
The controversial move by Major League Baseball's Angels to rename the team will likely bring more revenue from advertising and a new TV contract next year but probably won't affect its fan base, sports marketing experts said Tuesday.
The team said changing the name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was part of a long-term business plan to boost revenue and expand its marketing reach. The decision was made by Angels owner Arte Moreno.
"He's just trying to bake a bigger pie," said Paul Swangard, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. "He has a small piece right now, but there's plenty more to eat."
The city of Anaheim responded by authorizing a lawsuit aimed at blocking the change that officials said violates the stadium lease agreement.
It was unclear how much money the team might make by linking it to Los Angeles.
The Angels will seek a new TV contract following the 2005 season. KCAL-TV said last month it would drop the team and broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers games instead.
In an interview with The Orange County Register last month, Moreno said he felt the Angels had been put in a "demographic box" that limited marketing potential.
"The fact is, if you put people in a box, whether it's racial or economic or marketing-wise, you don't give them a chance to grow," Moreno said. "We're not changing where we live. We're not changing the Angels."
Moreno said he doesn't expect people to drive long distances, say from Pasadena or San Bernardino, to watch games. But he said neglecting the cache connected with the second-largest media market in the U.S. would be a mistake.
"We spent quite a bit of money doing research on this," said Moreno, who bought the Angels in 2003. "We were trying to broaden our overall economic reach."
Some observers said the name change sends a mixed message to fans.
"If they could have pulled off the Los Angeles Angels, great, but they didn't," said Paul Argenti, a professor of management and corporate communication at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. "It's just going to create more confusion.
"It's like the Oakland A's calling themselves the 'Oakland A's of San Francisco.' It's a bad idea," he said.
Some fans may detest the name change, but they could benefit if the added revenue results in cheaper prices at the ballpark and a better product on the field.
"The big challenge for Moreno is would revenues be used to lower costs for attending the game or improving amenities," Swangard said. "I think he understands he needs to build an immense value in the brand name to offer fans more than what they are paying for."
Moreno has won the support of fans by lowering beer and ticket prices. He also has obtained marquee players such as Vladimir Guerrero, Steve Finley, Bartolo Colon and Orlando Cabrera. The team now fields the third-highest payroll in baseball.
The team has received more than 500 e-mails and another couple hundred calls, said Tim Mead, the Angels vice president of communications.
"I think what came out in a majority of the responses was their passion," Mead said. "Some people were obviously upset but many said as long as the owner is committed to winning, they will accept it."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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