You’d think by now that the citizens of Anaheim would’ve learned that when Arte Moreno wants something, he usually gets it (Carl Crawford excluded). This proved to be a wonderful trait this last off-season when Moreno laid out big money to land C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols (yeah, I know, no homers, give it time people), but now that Arte’s attentions have turned to a new stadium in Los Angeles, that go-get-it attitude might not turn out to be so great after all.
Oh, right, Arte’s recent meeting with the AEG executives is just supposed to be a leverage play so he can squeeze and sweeter deal out of the city of Anaheim. Perhaps a few million bucks to overhaul the foundation of Angel Stadium? Maybe throw in the option to truncate the “of Anaheim” from the team name? Or, I don’t know, maybe some sort of agreement to get the Anaheim Department of Health to overlook that, um, little rat problem in the concession area?
Yeah, that must be what Moreno is after. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
Maybe I am just cynical, but I don’t think Arte Moreno was glad-handing the stadium executives behind the Staples Center just so he could make Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait Halo-red with jealousy. No, I think Arte is very serious about finally making the moniker Los Angeles Angels 100% based on fact.
Since day one of buying the Halos, Moreno has made no secret of his desire to convert the Angels into a legitimate big market, nationally followed team. It all started with the oft-mocked change in team name and has continued with increasing big money trade and free agent investments, culminating in the Pujols coup this winter. Do you really think he did all that just so he could strongarm the city of Anaheim into footing the bill for a few cosmetic enhancements to a 46-year old stadium? Methinks not.
The timing of this really couldn’t be better for Arte Moreno. After the Angels outdrew the Dodgers in attendance last season, the Halos proved that they could go toe-to-toe in the LA market and win against the more established franchise. With the signing of Albert Pujols, Moreno and the Halos showed that they can be a destination for premier free agents. And with their big fat $3 billion TV contract, they’ve got proof that the business world is willing to fork over big money to be part of the Angels product. If he was truly serious about getting a stadium built anywhere, there would no doubt be parties lining up around the block to get in on the action.
But what this shows to the folks back in Anaheim it is that Moreno and the Angels might have maxed out their growth potential in Orange County. They can’t get a bigger money out of the TV contract. They can’t pack many more fans into the stadium on an annual basis. There is nothing Anaheim can do for the Halos that they can’t already do for themselves.
Now, Los Angeles, the actual city of Los Angeles, can offer Moreno the moon. Not to knock on Anaheim, but it isn’t a the second largest market in the US, nor does it the same kind of corporate sponsorships and partnerships as LA. And, yes, it doesn’t have that Holllywood factor of big-time celebrities at games while the legendary Lakers play in the arena next door. Most of all though, being located in the actual LA city limits would remove the last obstacle in the way of the Angels finally shedding their label as the little brother of Southern California baseball. LA has always thought Dodger Blue, but the Dodgers’ grip on the market has shown signs of slipping. Moreno has done everything in his power to loosen that grip and convince the citizens of Los Angels to start bleeding Angel Red, but that can’t truly happen without the Halos actually residing in Los Angeles.
All Arte needs now is a partner in the stadium business. The AEG people are a logical first step, but that seems like a poor match. If anyone took that recent meeting to gain leverage, it was AEG, who probably just wanted to put more pressure on the NFL to get off their butts and move a team to Los Angeles already. Besides, imagine the traffic hell that would break loose around the LA Live area in April if the Lakers, Clippers and Kings were all in the playoffs while the Angels open their season right next door. It would be a Carmageddon on a daily basis.
But LA Live is not the only show in town. If Moreno puts the word out that he is serious about landing a new stadium in LA, the investors will come out of the woodwork. In the end, it could all prove to be too costly or too much red tape or just bad timing because the NFL projects are gumming up the works, but make no mistake, this is no passing fancy for Moreno. Between now and that opt-out date in the Angel Stadium lease in 2016, Moreno will be taking plenty more meetings on the other side of the county line.