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Gauntlet Thrown: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2005-01-03 09:44
by Jon Weisman

The press release is out. The Angels have gone official:

ANAHEIM -- Angels Baseball Monday announced the team has changed its official name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This change is effective January 3, 2005.

The inclusion of Los Angeles reflects the original expansion name awarded by Major League Baseball in December 1960 and again returns the Angels as Major League Baseball's American League representative in the Greater Los Angeles territory that Major League Baseball expects the team to serve.

The Los Angeles region, which is comprised of Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, is the second largest media market in the country. This name change will strengthen the Angels' long-term economic health by enhancing the marketability through this metropolitan area and beyond.

Angels Baseball and the "A" brand will continue to be the marketing focus of the organization and Angels Stadium of Anaheim remains the home of the 2004 defending American League Western Division Champions.

The Angels have enjoyed tremendous success in Anaheim, highlighted by a World Championship in 2002. The organization will continue to work closely with the City of Anaheim in promoting the Anaheim community, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, and the Angels' baseball experience.

The press release is well-written, however much it skirts the legal issues surrounding the name change. And the fact of the matter is, as Bill Shaikin (who broke this story to much derision last summer) of the Times wrote last week, the city of Anaheim's legal footing in preventing the name change isn't as solid as it first appeared:

The stadium lease agreement demands only that the team name "include the name Anaheim therein," providing Angel owner Arte Moreno with a potential loophole to exploit should he decide to call his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"There's no question the city could have written a lease provision that would have given the team no wiggle room. This provision does give the team some wiggle room," said Robert Jarvis, professor of law at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and co-author of a sports law textbook.

A negotiated settlement remains a likely outcome - though who can wait to see the Law and Order ripped-from-the-headlines version of the trial? (R.I.P., El Gallo.)

As for the lengthy name, obviously the prepositional phrase at the end will be dropped for brevity by most people. As for the redundancy in the name, I'm not going to worry about it as long as I'm working next door to the La Brea Tar Pits.

I still think the homage to the World Football League, the Southern California Angels, would have been the way to capture much market share indeed. But who am I to get in the way of identifying the "territory that Major League Baseball expects the team to serve?"

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