Moreno says it's about the money

Updated: February 17, 2005, 8:55 PM ET
Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels owner Arte Moreno defended his decision to put Los Angeles instead of Anaheim in front of the team's nickname, saying ultimately it's about being able to field a better team.

Moreno defied the city of Anaheim last month by renaming the team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"Long term, we have to look at the economic viability of what (we) are trying to accomplish. Are people hurt emotionally? Yes. But, I think objectively they're going to see a better product on the field and we're going to do a better job of maintaining the affordability of the experience," Moreno said as the Angels' pitchers and catchers held their first workouts of the spring.

"If we're going to compete at the national level, we need to be able to build our revenues. We have two ways to go, we're either going to raise ticket prices and souvenir and concession prices, or we're going to do a better job on the business side."

Figuring heavily in the business side is income from broadcasting rights. Moreno said the Angels have been considered a small-market team and have "a little league" media package.

He believes adding Los Angeles -- its downtown some 30 miles from Anaheim -- to the Angels' identity will change the impression of the team.

"When Milwaukee has a better radio deal than we do and a better TV deal than we do and we want to compete (on the field) with the upper echelon of teams, it's tough," Moreno said. "We're 28th or 29th of 30 teams in our media package.

"Seattle has a media deal that is three times the (size) of our radio deal. The reality is, the team is considered a small-market team."

Anaheim, which owns the stadium where the Angels play, is claiming in court that Moreno has violated the spirit of the team's lease with the name change. In an agreement with The Walt Disney Co. before Disney sold the Angels to Moreno in May 2003, Anaheim spent $20 million toward stadium renovations in exchange for having the city's name included with the team.

That agreement, however, stipulated only that "Anaheim" be included in the team name. Moreno believes he has done that with the "of Anaheim" clause.

"We are in the No. 2 media market, the No. 1 entertainment market in the world," Moreno said. "For us to stick our head in the sand and not reach out to that market, then we're doing a disservice to not only our organization, but to our fans."

There has been some criticism from fans and others, including the Los Angeles City Council.

"It's like anything else. If you're going to get beat up, you're going to get beat up. I would say (the criticism) is about what we expected," Moreno said.

Among the critics, he said, was one of his daughters.

"When I told my family that we were going to go ahead, my daughter said, 'Don't most of the fans like you pretty well right now? Why would you do something that would make them angry?'" Moreno said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press