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Anaheim Will Fight Angels’ Name Change

Times Staff Writer

The Anaheim City Council is scheduled to discuss possible legal action against the Angels today, one day after City Manager Dave Morgan sent a letter to Commissioner Bud Selig asking him to reconsider his endorsement of the team’s potential name change.

Morgan called Selig’s support “very disingenuous” since the move would violate a lease agreement Selig hailed upon approval eight years ago.

In addition to considering legal options if owner Arte Moreno proceeds in renaming his team the Los Angeles Angels, the council will discuss whether Moreno’s previous moves -- removing the city’s name from the team uniforms, schedules, ads and website -- warrant a legal response.

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“We will be discussing our legal options with the City Council and seeking its direction in terms of the actions that have been taken by the Angels and what additional actions may be taken,” Morgan said.

Selig declined to comment, saying he had not read the city’s letter. Moreno also declined to comment.

The Angel Stadium lease requires the team to be called the Anaheim Angels, a condition attached to the city’s $30-million contribution to the 1996 ballpark renovations agreement.

On Sunday, The Times reported that Selig had given his blessing to Moreno’s name change but wanted him to work with Anaheim officials rather than engage in a public fight.

The council has pledged to veto any name change, and Morgan said Monday there was no bargaining chip Moreno could trade in exchange for city approval.

“We’re not going to go there,” Morgan said.

The lease specifies that “Anaheim” be included in the name of the team and stadium, and the council could authorize filing for an injunction if Moreno changes the team name without approval. The lease does not specify the team use “Anaheim” on uniforms or in publicity materials, but the city might retain legal counsel to explore whether Moreno’s strategy has devalued the city’s investment in the stadium.

“We don’t know if any of that constitutes a breach of the lease, but we want to have that conversation,” Morgan said. “We don’t want this to be a slow transition where we never draw the line. We need to take a look at whatever is occurring.”

In his letter, Morgan expressed his “strong disappointment and concern” over Selig’s approval of the name change and vowed the city “is prepared to take every legal step necessary to enforce the lease.” Morgan also told Selig the city not only contributed to the ballpark renovation but limited future revenue streams by accepting restrictions on development in the stadium parking lot.

However, in Moreno’s two years of ownership, the Angels have set attendance records and thus contributed about $2.5 million to city coffers. The lease requires the Angels pay the city $2 for every ticket sold over 2.6 million; the team sold 3 million in 2003 and 3.4 million last season.

Morgan faxed his letter to Selig, with a copy to Bob DuPuy, president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. The Angels did not receive a copy.

After the council determines the city’s direction, Morgan said he would invite Angel President Dennis Kuhl to meet. Kuhl declined to comment.


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